A different kind of engineer: Boss Tweed

"The way to have power is to take it." Boss Tweed

“The way to have power is to take it.” Boss Tweed

“It’s hard not to admire the skill behind Tweed’s system … The Tweed ring at its height was an engineering marvel, strong and solid, strategically deployed to control key power points: the courts, the legislature, the treasury and the ballot box. Its frauds had a grandeur of scale and an elegance of structure: money-laundering, profit sharing and organization.” Kenneth Ackerman Tweed biographer

People love a colorful criminal.  Why is that?

I’m glad after so many years of progress that our politicians have improved on their skills.

tweed nast 2

Progress is a circle not a line.




“Look around you and paint what you see. Forget the Beaux-Arts and the models and render the intense life which surrounds you and be assured that the Brooklyn Bridge is worth the Colosseum of Rome and that modern America is as fine as the bric-a-brac of antiquity.”











6453_o_childe_hassam green gown









The American Venus

Early sex kitten?

Early sex kitten?

Imagine walking around New York City seeing your image everywhere–your sublime nudity associated with goddesses and every noble cause. You’re discovered by a photographer and soon every artist wants you, every filmmaker clamors for your presence on their movie set. Imagine you’re sixteen. Then imagine you’re looking out the window of an insane asylum on your fortieth birthday.

descending_nightAudrey Munson known as Miss Manhattan, The American Venus and The Exposition Girl before the First World War was every artists’ muse. In New York City alone it is estimated that she is the model for 22 statues. Three fourths of the statuary at the Panama Pacific International Exposition (World’s Fair in San Fransisco) was inspired by her likeness.

But then it all went terribly wrong. Most modern girls dream of being discovered, of someone noticing their intrinsic worth or at the very least finding them pretty. A breathless ten year bloom, an extravagant celebration of a single girl’s ability to inspire a generation of sculptors to transcend mere sexual desire and rise to something more noble ends with a killing frost.

Confident about her future--maybe?

Confident about her future–maybe?

Audrey gave herself to the ages but one man broke the spell. He murdered his wife to be with Venus. He hung himself before the electric chair could be readied. The slow creep of autumn when bits of yourself fall away at least gives you momentary, bittersweet pleasures–but killing frosts come unexpectedly when fruit is at its very fullness.

The statues then mock you. The artists feel your taint and want nothing to do with you. Many years pass suffering the icy loneliness of lost fame and with the first grey hairs at your temple you are put in a room like a box to remember the far away city of your youth.




Thanks to http://mbracedefreak.wordpress.com/   for introducing me to Audrey!

Heedless Moths . . .

Heedless Moths . . .