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Great Dive Bars of New England #2:
The Main Tavern

DerryBusLARGE

“When the Falcon was opened in 1973, Elmer Curtie thought his clientele would consist mostly of bus-riders–the terminal next door serviced three different lines: Trailways, Greyhound and Aroostock County.”
Stephen King, (1986)

The Main Tavern occupies an especial place in the hierarchy of Bangor’s bars. It is NOT for the respectable doctors, lawyers and old Yankee families in their Greek Revival and Italianate mansions on West Broadway. Nor is it for the teachers, nurses and shopkeepers who make up the town’s middle classes. The college kids from the University of Maine at Orono avoid it and even fisherman flush with cash on payday will not drink there. People speak of it in judgmental tones and being seen entering it will damage one’s reputation. Mothers when walking down Main Street will cross to the other side and pull their children along; presumably to escape its harmful vapors. It’s seen as a ‘bad’ place and potentially quite dangerous.

Needless to say, I love it.

The Main Tavern opened in 1948 and has been continually owned by the Brountas family. What makes it so unique and supposedly disreputable is that it is right next to the city’s bus terminal.  Bangor is also the final stop on Greyhound’s Northern line. After this, travelers board the Aroostook County line in order to reach impoverished villages spread like a spider’s web towards the distant Canadian border. So, for many people Bangor is the end of the line both literally and metaphorically. They have run away from their past lives, lovers and families to find themselves in an old logging city along the Penobscot. Greyhound stations attract people from all walks of life; including drifters and bums. Down to their last two dollars for a Pabst blue ribbon, they stumble next door into a dimly lit cavern and a smiling bartender. There, they soak up what little happiness they can create amidst a miasmic haze of cigarette smoke mixed with a trace of marijuana and the faint, acrid smell of spilled meth. It’s actually a very friendly place with the companionship you’d expect to find among the dead and damned.

I first ventured into the Main Tavern while on an epic pub crawl in downtown Bangor as a young man. I had been drinking at a respectable Irish pub across the street and asked the bartender where I could find a local place with colorful characters. I said that I wanted a ‘working-class place with people who had no teeth and just enough money left for one domestic beer’. He immediately pointed across the street and said, “That’s the place you’re looking for but it’s not for upscale guys like you.” I should point out that I was wearing grey suit trousers, a blue buttoned-down shirt with a Brooks Brothers striped tie, a double-breasted blazer with gold buttons and matching faux-Gucci loafers (Cole Haan) with gold straps. I conceded his point, took off my tie and unbuttoned my shirt collar. I said, “Now I’m ready” and sailed out the door leaving an astonished bartender behind. I walked across the street, sidestepped past a couple of emaciated townies in trucker hats and flannel and made my way inside.

When stepping inside, I immediately noticed the dark haze of cigarette smoke and Billy Idol wafting through the air. I walked past two gentlemen in Red Sox baseball caps drinking at a little table just inside the bar. As I made my way to the bar on the left, I noticed that the room was actually quite long. There was a pool room in the back with a few, half-interested players. I sat down at the bar and ordered a gin and tonic from the bartender. He immediately asked for my ID, which I of course took as a compliment. I am twenty-nine years old and still get carded regularly. Once he peered at it with the aid of a Maglite, he complimented me on my youthful looks and served me. After taking a first gulp of the house gin (rotgut) I turned and peered into the darkness. The various townies and troglodytes were clad in the best Northern New England garb imaginable! Carhartt jackets, Lee Jeans and Budweiser caps abounded. I watched the pool game for a few minutes and then turned back to the bar to engage in conversation.

The person to my immediate right at the bar was a mature sixtyish woman with a walker and a pink fleece tracksuit. She wore her hair back in a bun, peered out at the world through round glasses and was drinking a Bud Light. We fall to talking and she informed me that she was the owner’s mother-in-law. For the next two hours we discussed Maine culture, politics, race relations and sports. I learned that she had six children and came from a large family herself. Working from the age of fourteen, she had managed to raise a successful family. She reminded me of those tough, working-class Maine women in Stephen King’s fiction. Her mannerisms, slang and accent with its ‘ayuhs’ all resonated within me. In the words of a local author, “It’s not Vacationland for most of us, it’s work your ass off for nothing land.” Maine can be a hardscrabble life but its people are just as tough. I sipped my gin and tonic while listening to her stories about the city and its people and it was with reluctance that I finished my drink and slipped out of the bar at midnight.

The Main Tavern is an institution in Downtown Bangor. Its dark interiors, colorful characters and Eighties jukebox all appeal to me. I am brought back to the New England of my childhood and love it immeasurably. For a good night and wonderful memories, give it a try! You’ll see the real Maine writ large and it will open your eyes.

Rating: Five shots out of five.

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Work of Art

 

Title: Knight, Death and Devil

Artist: Albrecht Dürer

Completion Date: 1513

Style: Northern Renaissance

Genre: Allegorical Painting

Technique: Engraving

Gallery: Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

Albrecht Dürer’s monumental 1513 engraving Ritter, Tod und Teufel (Knight, Death and Devil) stands as an extraordinary achievement of Northern Renaissance art. Dürer was one of Germany’s greatest artists and his works shaped and molded völkisch identity. Frequently deploying medievalist symbolism, Dürer’s engravings convey multiple messages that appear as one gazes further into the depicted scenes. Ritter, Tod und Teufel is internationally recognizable and people across the world possess prints of this work. Gothic, twilit and utterly compelling, it commands rapt attention and admiration. The figure of the noble knight riding with Death echoes in Bergman’s The Seventh Seal and various Danse Macabre murals adorning Europe’s cathedrals. What makes Dürer’s engraving so remarkable is its degree of detail and metaphorical complexity thoughout the work.

At first glance, the viewer observes a proud knight clad in armor riding through a Teutonic wilderness. A walled citadel stands in the upper far background but our ritter rides through a rocky cleft far removed from feudal courts. His loyal spaniel darts forward besides him with ears back and alarmed eyes. Beside him rides Death clutching an hourglass while worms squirm out of his rotting death’s head. At once a frightening image of mortality and decay, he urges the knight on to his ultimate fate. Death rides with all of us but like our knight, we are so often oblivious to his presence. Sand is trickling through our hourglass every second and we ought to fully realized our own mortality. Likewise, our knight is accompanied by the Devil in grotesque bestial form. The rebelling angel boasts a boar’s snout and a bull’s horn while clutching a halberd. Following hotly on our heels, Satan desires to consume our souls in his hateful fire. With Death and Devil pursuing us, we must safeguard our souls against these dangers.

Deeply allegorical, Dürer’s work brilliantly accomplishes its goal of educating and inspiring the viewer. Dürer proved a master engraver and his fine lines provided shadowing and illustrative complexity to this remarkable work. Ritter Tod, und Teufel represents medieval Teutonic culture through a distinct artistic medium. In 1915, Dr. Hans F.K. Günther penned a rightist, nationalist tract titled Ritter, Tod und Teufel: Der Heldische Gedanke, (Knight, Death and Devil: The Heroic Idea). In this work, Günther used Dürer’s deeply Germanic imagery as a visual example of positive Germanic racial characteristics. The noble Aryan knight riding forwards to his ultimate fate served as a metaphor for the nation’s racial and cultural struggle for elite purity. In our decadent age of racial panmixia and democratic confusion, Western youth ought to look back to Dürer’s engraving. Within its delicate lines, they will find inspiration borne from our medieval past and gain courage and strength for Europe’s future.

Peter Sayles

Bangor, Maine (2012)

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Work of Art

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Title: Medusa

Artist: Franz Von Stuck

Completion Date: 1892

Style: Symbolism

Genre: mythological painting

Tags: Greek and Roman mythology, Medusa

 

Painted in 1892, Von Stuck’s Medusa arrests the viewer at first gaze. Writhing, sinuous snakes crown the Gorgon while she stares out at the world with mesmerizing eyes. Limpid and reflective, her irises are set within a feminine visage. Von Stuck focused the viewer’s attention to the eyes in order to convey the petrifying power behind them. August Kubizek related in his memoirs, Adolf Hitler, mein Jugendfreund that he had visited a gallery with the young Adolf Hitler. The future Führer of the Third Reich gazed at Von Stuck’s Medusa and suddenly exclaimed, “Those eyes, Kubizek! Those were my mother’s eyes”. The similarity is remarkable when one views a photograph of Klara Hitler. Von Stuck’s oneiric visions were both extraordinary and prescient.

 

 

 

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Work of Art

 

Title: Inferno

Artist: Franz Von Stuck

Completion Date: 1908

Style: Symbolism

Genre: religious painting

Out of all the Symbolist painters, Franz Von Stuck (1863-1928) produced enigmatic, occultist works that surpassed canvases by many of his colleagues. In our own decadent, sensitized age, Stuck’s works are often regrettably relegated to museum subcellars and provincial galleries. The Metropolitan Museum of Art owns only two Stuck bronzes and neither are currently on display. Museum curators simply do not know what to do with Franz Von Stuck. Gallery directors prefer to ignore Symbolism, present Impressionism as the only radical break from Academicism and simply showcase those canonical Manets and Renoirs which university students and the ‘ladies who lunch’ pay entrance fees to see. Stuck unnerves such unreflective sightseers by confronting them with nightmarish visions and shrouded glimpses of dreams yet to come.

Stuck invited his viewers into dark tableaus of Orphic shadows and Eleusinian initiatory ordeals. His painting Inferno rendered an extraordinary panaroma of the damned writhing in eternal torment. A syphilitic whore with a death’s head stands stiffly on the left while a demon readies to suckle at her withered teat. Two muscled figures sit doubled up in agony at the scene’s center. On the right, a venomous serpent coils itself around two damned souls. Stuck used ophidian imagery repeatedly in his paintings and this particular Hydra wildly sibilates as it crushes its victims. Backlit with fiery igneous rock, Stuck focused light on each damned soul so as to detail every facet of their agony. Inferno successfully depicts an arresting scene of chthonian grotesques for its viewers. As a worthy successor to Hieronymous Bosch’s extraordinary imagination, Franz Von Stuck rightly deserves reappraisal for his remarkable vision.

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Conquistadores and Cowboys:
An Occasional Discourse on the Feudal Origins of American Institutions (Part I)

1. INTRODUCTION and Prefatory Remarks A couple of years ago, Mistral accepted a commission from TDR to write an article. It was intended to be a piece on the place […]

1. INTRODUCTION and Prefatory Remarks

A couple of years ago, Mistral accepted a commission from TDR to write an article. It was intended to be a piece on the place of race within political theory at the intersection between political philosophy and practice. The resultant piece was titled ‘The ‘Good European’ versus ‘La Raza Cósmica’ ’ (which now appears as a Mistral Archive reprint on The Devil’s Review). Initially, I didn’t intend to write a response or clarification; a reference to the essay in my own news piece about the Falklands trouble in 2010 was sufficient. Now, upon re-reading the piece retrospectively (especially in light of Alfred Smith’s highly successful and much discussed article at AltRight), I have realized that it deserves both response and, moreover, an historical clarification.

So, I have decided to write an occasional essay to mark the recent re-publication of this piece.

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2. The Provenance of the Ranching Tradition

The tradition of the cowboys, often regarded as quintessentially American, was in fact a vestigial after-image of European feudalism.

One has no way of understanding the ranching tradition out of which the “cowboys” arose without understanding the system of haciendas and encomiendas and no way of understanding this system without understanding its origins in European feudalism.

Feudalism is a concrete confluence of specific material conditions. Once these conditions are in place, they are remarkably durable. Several factors enter into these material conditions may, factors which for the sake of illumination we may largely distinguish into two (albeit overlapping) groups: biological and environmental. There is also a third category, based on the interplay of the other two over time — and we may call these factors ‘historical’. In this case, the biological factors are covered by the Spanish stock which we find from the  Middle Ages to the hacienda system. The Iberian peoples (various forms of Spanish and Portuguese) at the time of the Reconquista and the discovery (and later Conquista) of the Americas were a mix of inter alia Celts, indigenous Iberians, Visigoths and various other influences (including, yes, the Moor or Berber enemy).

The system of land-owning which led to the American traditions of ranching was born in the distinctive environments of the Iberian peninsula, from the plateaus and mountains of Central Spain to the rugged landscapes outlying in all directions, for hundreds of miles. Touring through the wide open spaces of the Spanish interior, one would be forgiven for having the surreal feeling of being transported to the American Southwest. So, it is little wonder that in the United States the region most evocative of these originally Iberian (and predominantly Spanish) traditions is the Southwest itself. Quite simply, they are alike. In similar environments, the raising of the same livestock — in this case, cattle — by the same means — i.e. hacienda-style herding on horseback — will proceed in largely the same way. They present like opportunities for the organic development of like traditions. The material conditions of the Southwest seem and ramify in ways substantially the same as those of inner Iberia, albeit the American experience provided a larger canvas on which to develop these traditions and more pressing economic and demographic demands to stimulate such development.

A question of existential importance remains: Supposing these traditions are thus formed, retained and nurtured, how are they reflected in the stratification of the New World?

The Spanish caste system in the New World was an effective (and flexible) transposition of the feudal hierarchy. So, just as there were in the Mediæval Europe nobles of varying rank, along with their chivalric retainers and the serfs in the fields, there were also corresponding ranks in the Spanish New World. The difference between the hacendado and the ‘mere’ ranchero is the difference between the ricohombre and the caballero, the lord and the gentleman. This seems a slight distinction, bit it is a significant one. The point of contrast is between man who has a vast household and a network of dependents and a man of parts who ‘merely’ owns land.

Potentially, this could be comparable to the difference between an hereditary general and the gentleman, just one of many such, called to that general’s banner. It is, in some ways more clearly, an analogy (and more than simply this) to the Roman differentiation between the patron and the free-born citizen, respectively the patronus and libertus. This is, incidentally, why the Latin American landowner is also known as the patrón.

These classes are, furthermore, both distinct from the peón or serf. Still, the knight need not necessarily be noble and, as a corollary, the knightly ‘class’ as a whole is not strictly noble, albeit that its existence and functions depend upon the nobility, institutionally and infrastructurally. Traditionally, knightly service is repaid in grants of subsistence and honours; the knight still depends upon a lord. This is what gives rises to the ‘knight’s fee’. This convenient martial-logistical way of sub-dividing a noble’s land has the additional benefit of providing a practical delineation of a noble’s military might, by the ubi finitur armorum vis or limited reach of arms.

On this concrete, worldly foundation a noble’s power and status is built.

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