The Charlotte News
Sunday, August 28, 1938
Site Ed. Note: Heywood Broun presents a wholly probable view on the innate nature of art and its inevitable perversion, or at least stagnation, by instruction in the rigors of technique--that too much of the latter finally stultifies the natural tendency to impressionism which all youth enjoy. (We have told you previously of our white deer masterpiece in the first grade and the consequent horror insinuated by it to our teacher. Suffice it to say, we gave up then and there on painting as a probable vocational or even avocational mode of expression.) Heywood has it right. Leave them alone, to enjoy art, as they please, even if the finger-paint portrays to you something startlingly strange. That which we perceive as adults and take with great gravity sometimes is something which is likely not at all perceived in like fashion by the young creating it or viewing it or listening to it, or all three at once. (We would hazard to say that the little girl who, when taken to the Dallas Art Museum, got all agley at the statuary on display is the one, not the teacher, who should have her sensibilities redirected into more productive aesthetic appreciation of the human body, and the strenuous art and craft at work in reproducing its form in an enduring sculpture or painting.) Art is one area where creativity will flourish if at all only by laissez-faire, eliminating the reigns of causal structure, empirical technique, and most especially, from the end result, criticism in the form of psychological analysis of the would-be artist, as opposed to the wherewithal to critique the work, not for technique so much, but rather for its original expression of an idea or the lack thereof. Is it creativity at work or is it merely the regurgitation of tv imagery in the form of drama, comedy or advertising? If the latter, a sharp critique might be suggested to winnow out the weeds from the child's mind to get at the base matter of inherent originality.
White deer conveys sleigh ride through the lanes of New England in early December. We shall listen then to some Debussy.
For an earlier piece, by Cash, for the book-page, taking a look at Hitler's purge of all art not susceptible of understanding by the philistine, see "Hitler's Paint Purge: Housepainter Looks at Art", July 25, 1937. We wish to call it: "They Who See Psychological Danger in Painting a White Deer". (No psychological or political aspersions cast on our matronly first-grade teacher. After all, that was still the eagle-perilously-perched-over-crushed-glass age of Eisenhower, not yet Kennedy.)
Another apt piece by Cash is "Lush Confusion In: This Sentimental Cult", March 28, 1937, anent the problems of using "the young girl", whether Hitler or else, as the arbiter of what is art.
As to the piece on "Guerrilla Warfare...", one might ask why couldn't the police catch the bigshot bootleggers and numbers racket operators in and around Mecklenburg in those days. The answer, or the greater part of it probably, appears plain enough, likely two-fold: for participation in it, tolerance of the corruption by the greater part of the community on the one hand, cops and local pols on the take and partakers of it also, on the other. To appease the part of the community exhibiting genuine moral outrage, the predominantly church-going, (only some of whom didn't go out on Monday and buy from the bootlegger and purchase the lottery number themselves), the pols and the police would point to their busting of the small fries on the street, and the resultant arrest statistics, to show that they were doing their jobs to the extent humanly possible. And so it went. And, so it goes--only the type of prohibited activity being substituted from time to time for the vice which has passed into the realm of general acceptability in society, just as numbers and liquor.
And from "The Water's Fine" we glean that the postman always rings twice. We always hope of course that he is unarmed, and as pure in spirit as the Venus de Milo (when she didn't lose them in the wrestling match, that is).
Calling S. S. No. 14.648.203
"The Social Security Carders' League for Economic Action" is the inspired brain-child of a chap in Chicago, who has sent us a badly mimeographed sheet telling all about it. What he is interested in primarily seems to be the preservation of Social Security against the return of reactionaries to political power. He also has some notions about Government ownership of banks, and he drops large but vague remarks about the importance of the nation's productive power and equitable distribution.
But, chiefly, he appears to want to organize the socially secure, who number some 39,000,000, to make certain that they protect their interests and that no funny business goes on. By Jove? Where is that dratted card? Here we've been invited to join an exclusive club and can't even remember what we did with our credentials!
A number of the city's business men show by the petition that they are going to present to the County Commissioners tomorrow that they doubt the wisdom of flatly turning down the uptown auditorium project. The general feeling is that we here will have to pay back our share of the Federal Government's spending, hence would do well to get all that's coming to us. Another prevalent impression is that this is the last time around for all these grants and loans on any such generous terms. And for itself, the auditorium is highly desirable.
The County Commissioners indicated, by the length of time they took to reach a decision when Colonel Kirkpatrick first proposed the building of the auditorium, that it required a good deal of thought to decide one way or the other. Finally the motion lost by three votes against two, which is pretty close to a toss-up. It is possible that some of the dissenting Commissioners have wondered since if they had not passed up an opportunity which in all probability won't come again. In any case, reconsideration of a civic facility that means so much to the progress of the community would be time well spent.
High Cost of Not Building
An article in the current American Builder by one of its editors just returned from abroad contains a striking comparison between the building trades in England and this country. As everybody knows, England has been relatively prosperous during the last several years, and the most important contribution to that prosperity has been, excluding the tremendous armament activity, building. In the beginning it was principally Government building--low-cost housing and slum clearance; but private industry took it up to such an extent that only a fifth of the residence building in England today is of the subsidized variety. In this country, residence building, while showing some signs of life, is still far behind potential demand. It remains the greatest single cause of unemployment.
The explanation of this is not, of a certainty, lack of easy credit. You can get all you want, up to 90 per cent of the cost of a house under $5,000. And people want houses. That they are not building or buying them is due, we believe, to two prime reasons, the first of which is the uncertainty of the times and the unsettled condition of the Federal Government. The second is the high cost of building.
Rather, it is the high cost of not building. For the American building trades are wed to the policy that it is better to work irregularly at sky-high wages than steadily at moderate wages. In New York City, for an extreme example, the 30-hour week and the $2-an-hour wage are union standards. In England, 40 hours make an acceptable work week, and the average hourly rate of pay in the trade is about 40 cents.
This means that insofar as labor costs go, you can get five times as much house for your money in England as you can in New York City. In turn it means that more people have built houses, which has meant more work for the building trades.
Guerrilla Warfare on Liquor and Numbers Big Shots
It was unpremeditated happen-so, we feel sure, but the juxtaposition of a couple of headlines in Friday's News was in itself an ironic commentary. These were the headlines:
Two Mice in Trap
Small game, this, especially for the police. The dogcatcher, who puts his heart in his work, caught the mice only incidentally to his main occupation. And mice are pests, whereas Negro runners for the numbers racket, and white runners too, for that matter, actually render a service. If you don't believe it, watch one at work. We wish our news boys could sell papers today to as eager and as gratified a clientele.
At the same time, and without forfeiting one whit of a passionate conviction that it shouldn't be any of the cops' affair if a grown man chooses to risk a nickel or a quarter of his own pocket change in the remote chance of making it return him $22.50 or $112.50, which is real money--at the same time, we have come to look upon the arrest of runners for the numbers racket in an entirely different light. In themselves, they don't much matter. Put one behind bars and two will take his place in the field. But for what they represent they matter tremendously. Listen!
This community is ringed about with corruption, extending even into official places, which derives its revenue, and that is to say its power, primarily from two sources, liquor and the numbers. Proprietors, the big shots, of these lucrative enterprises are completely beyond the reach of the police. They know who they are but they can't get the goods on them. The brazen bootlegging operations of "Robert Taylor" and the abortive effort to pin that alias on a suspect show all too clearly how the police are frustrated and helpless.
Consequently, the only way to get at them is through their agents. This can be made an exceedingly expensive process for the powers behind the liquor and numbers rackets, who post bonds and pay fines and take care of lawyers' fees, and it can be used to harass them until the game is no longer worth the candle. The police know, in all probability, the identity of these runners and petty bootleggers, and can get the goods on them and through them take a hefty cut out of the big shots' bankroll. It's bankrolls that keep corruption going.
The Water's Fine*
Noiselessly and without arousing a single yelp of protest the Post Office has extended mail delivery service to some 10,000 people who live immediately around the city's official territory. Twice a day now will the postman ring at residences on the Monroe Road at a distance of six and half miles from the Square, Selwyn Avenue Extension, Biltmore Drive, in the Charlotte Country Club section, Club Colony, Chantilly, Thomasboro and Hoskins.
This is a welcome accommodation, of course, though it is no more than the residents of these thickly settled communities are entitled to. Their neighborhoods are urban in all but--well, not in name, surely, for when you ask them where they are from, they say Charlotte. In all but having to pay City taxes, let us concede, and in the benefits of fire and police protection, city schools and--oh, of voting in City elections.
Most of these people would kick like steers if the city limits were enlarged to take them in, and nobody can blame them for it. Yet, the steady growth of the city, of which this extension of mail delivery service is a sample, logically makes contiguous sections such as these as much a part of the city as the sections immediately within the line. We do not see how they can hope much longer to avoid being recognized for what they are--citizens of Charlotte.
Two Who Were Missed*
In reading of the campaign for the Charlotte Memorial Hospital, some may have missed from the list of leaders the names of Dr. John Peter Munroe and Dr. Andrew Johnson Crowell. To wonder at the inactivity of these pre-eminent leaders in all medical advances was inevitable. The News wondered, and found the explanation. It is even as it feared. Both these doctors, the two who have done most for Charlotte Medicine, lacked the physical strength to take part in this great movement. But both retain their keen interest in everything having to do with better medicine and follow the progress of the hospital drive with ardor second to none.
Some five years ago a testimonial dinner was given Dr. Munroe and Dr. Crowell at the Charlotte Country Club. On this occasion tribute was paid to Dr. Munroe's conduct of the Medical School at Davidson, which he later brought to Charlotte as the North Carolina Medical College. It was said that he shared with Shakespeare the right to be called myriad-minded, for he has taught, and taught well, every subject in the medical curriculum. Some of the most eminent doctors of the state bore testimony that, but for Dr. Munroe, they could never have become doctors.
Dr. Crowell was Dr. Munroe's right-hand man in the College. He was one of the pioneers in the development of the specialty of urology, and the work of his clinic was of such high character as to establish for Charlotte Medicine a national reputation. And both of them, for all their inability to take part in the latest forward step in Charlotte, must enjoy the thought of how largely they contributed toward making the city the medical center that needs a vast new hospital today.
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