Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Classical Age Sportswomen II

Artemis, the Greek Goddess referred to in the last post, releaser of ravaging wild boars and protector of the virginity of nymphs, was the sister of Apollo and daughter of Zeus. She is known as the virgin Huntress and goddess of wildlife and patroness of hunters. She is alternately designated as Goddess of the Moon and protector of all wild creatures.
Artemis is often depicted with a bow and quiver. She would loose an arrow without notice in the direction of anyone who threatened her chastity or that of her nymph entourage.
I have known a bird dog and a waterfowl dog named Artemis...so monikered by Classics loving masters who wanted something other than the tired and cliche hunting dog names like " gunner" or "hunter."
When a hunter takes to the field or forest or marsh in search of game...and there is a full moon coinciding....said hunter should make an offering to Artemis. Around my Club this would amount to some whiskey thrown in the fire to waft toward Mount Olympus and appease this fickle Sportswoman.
This Wednesday is the Opening Day of Dove Season and many of my buddies in the field will be cursing or praising Artemis when they miss a crossing shot or make a good one. See you in the Field.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sportsmen and Sportswomen of the Classical Age-The Calydonian Boar Hunt

In ancient Greece, it certainly was a blunder to piss off the Gods. Those diefic layabouts sat on Mount Olympus and meted out terrible plagues,curses and punishments for even the smallest slight or infraction.
At one point, the goddess Artemis got pissed at the King of Calydonia. King Oeneus was not paying proper tribute so this nasty wench sent a giant Boar to ravage and ruin the Kingdom of Calydonia.
King Oeneus sent out a call for hunters to kill his vexatious and destructive uber-pig. The bravest and best Sportsmen of Greece assembled to hunt the Boar and win fame and the pelt and tusks. Included in this assembly was a Sportswomen: the beautiful and sexy Atalanta. This Classical era hottie had just returned from hanging with the Argonauts on the Golden Fleece trip.
Many of the Calydonia Hunters protested that they would not hunt with a wench. The King's son intervened and made the boys take the fearless Atalanta with them.
When this crew was clammoring thru the Forest, they stumbled on the Boar's lair. This agravated the Boar and several hunters were gored and killed in the resulting pig attack. Even the intrepid Jason missed with his javelin toss while trying to fend off this assault. However, the lovely and deadly Atalanta loosed an arrow that stuck in the big pig's brain. This skewering merely stunned the giant Boar. The rest of the hunters saw their chance and fell upon the quarry with axe and sword and finally dispatched the Boar. The final blow was struck by Meleager and he gave the hide to Atalanta to suck up to this comely huntress. She was not impressed. Nevertheles, the King and subjects of Calydonia were certainly impressed with Atalanta.
As an aside... interesting to see the get-ups in which these guys take to the woods. As an experienced hunter, I would tend to discourage one from hunting boar nude and wearing nothing but a red cape while one's package is in the breeze.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

More Sporting Art

Thomas Eakins was a famous artist from Philadelphia who lived from 1844 to 1916. He focused much of his painting on local scenes in and around Philadelphia. Many of his subjects featured sporting themes...a few of these are featured above. One of my particular favorites is the railbird hunting scene above titled: Pushing for Rail. Railbird hunting is a rare and esoteric type of wingshooting and is limited to very select and and specific tidal marsh regions. This unique pursuit will likely be the subject of a future post with some contemporary photos since I will be going railbird shooting this September.
In the meantime, readers and Eakins fans on the West Coast can enjoy a rare exhibition of Eakins Sporting Art at the L.A. County Museum of Art. The current exhibit is entitled: "Manly Pursuits: The Sporting Images of Thomas Eakins."
Eakins did several wondeful scenes of rowing on the Schuylkill river which are some of the most familiar and popular. His boxing scenes from the old Philadelphia Arena are some of my other favorites and capture the tone and tenor of old time boxing.
If you happen to take in the L.A. exhibit...you may see Laguna Beach Trad admiring some of the Sporting canvases as he is rumoured to make his domicile in regions just South.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Off Line

As of this evening I am heading to the Adirondacks for some much needed decompression. We will be camping on an island on Lower Saranac Lake for two nights and then staying at a house on Upper Saranac for a week. We will complete the North Country sojourn with a stay at the Whiteface Lodge. In between, we will attend a 5oth anniversary party at the Whiteface Lodge for my friend's parents as well as a benefit cocktail party for the Pendragon Theatre at Wenonah Lodge, a restored Great Camp.. We are also hosting a pig roast for about 40 guests on Upper Saranac next Wednesday. There will be much waterskiing,hiking,fishing,canoeing,kayaking, and cocktail cruising. I will get to spend lots of time with the kids and that is perhaps the best part. On the return journey we will make a stop at Saratoga for some racing.
Until I return I am shunning all electonic contrivances and all devices of artificial urgency. I will have to check e-mail from the office and check voice mail occassionally....but there will be no posts from this Sportsman...

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Unique Competition-Idem Racing

As a self-described Sportsman, I am fascinated and intrigued by unusual and unique sporting events and competitions that one can sometimes witness. It is particularly rare to be a spectator watching a contest that is unique in all the world. Idem racing is such a contest.
Idems are a sailing craft peculiar to the St. Regis Yacht Club on Upper St. Regis Lake in the Adirondack chain. These vessels were designed by a Naval Architect, Clinton Crane, as a sailing sloop particularly suited to the winds and confines of Upper St. Regis lake. Shortly after the first Idems were designed and built in 1899, several members of the Yacht Club lined up to by one . A yearly competition was promptly organized to race these sloops in pursuit of silver trophies and bragging rights.Eventually, 12 such Idems were built. These gaff rigged boats are 32 feet long, constructed of wood, and are crewed by 5 people. The Idems were designed in 1899 and the originals still sail the lake today. One can scarcely fathom the cost and diligence required to maintain these wooden boats...literally hundreds of gallons of spar varnish and a set of skilled hands. There are only 3 or 4 men in the Adirondack region who are trusted by the descendants of the original owners to attend to these beautiful craft.

The Idem races take place on Saturdays between mid-July and the Labor day. The course on Upper St. Regis is intricately laid out and it takes considerable sailing skill to pilot these boats to the finish line. A typical race is completed in about one and a half hours and the times between finishers and the winner is usually only minutes apart.
The Families on this lake who own these 12 Idems, and who form the membership rolls of the St. Regis Yacht Club, have generally been Summering in the region since the 1880's. Hence, the rivalries amongst the Idem racers cross generations and fuel many a heated boast and challenge over G&T's at Club functions and cocktail parties hosted at Upper St. Regis boathouses and Great Camps.
Two such spectacular Boathouses are featured above: one from Camp Cobblestone and one from Topridge.....as well as a shot of a beautiful Chris Craft classic cocktail cruiser...the type of pleasure craft which acts as the perfect spectator platform for watching the races.
My Wife and I have watched these races on ocassion when when we spend our usual time in the Adirondacks. From the first time I saw the races I was fascinated by the grace and speed of these boats and I was likewise fascinated by the fact that only 12 of these boats exist and are unique in all the world to this Lake.
Personally, I am not competent to sail a matchbox in a gutter of rainwater let alone even a Sunfish on a calm pond...I have crewed on boats in the B.V.I. and the Chesapeake only because I can follow the directions screamed at me by a knowledgable Skipper. Perhaps the lack of this skill-set is another reason I find these races so appealing.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Cigar Box Art

One of the items I love to collect is hunting related beer, or liquor paraphenalia: Signs,ashtrays,mirrors,tap handles coasters and other premiums that breweries and distilleries gave away to their good customers to keep around the saloon. Hunting and outdoor themes are prevalent in much of this marketing material.
I have recently become enamored of cigar box art. The themes are diverse and the tone and style of these box-top masterpieces are unique. I am sure many of you have seen framed cigar box lids in a tap room or steak house...they have been a favorite decor for masculine themed rooms for quite some time. I paricularly like the sport and hunting themed lids...and there are some very handsome military themed examples as well.
I recently found the featured example from a brand" Old Sports" which represents and captures the very essence of a Sportsman...gentlemen in White Tie sharing a smoke and camraderie at table...surrounded by the border art depicting hunting and fishing acoutrements as well as other sporting intersts such as cards, dice, boxing,cribbage,rugby et al. I searched for this lid for months and like it so much it is my new banner. I hated taking down the Chris Craft from The Point hotel as it motored on the lake before a beautiful Adirondack sunset...but I'll be seeing that first hand in a few short days...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Famous Sportsman

Jock Whitney was certainly born with the proverbial silver spoon jammed firmly in his pie-hole. He had the cliche Uber-WASP pedigree which included Mayflower passengers and Presidential cabinet members as his ancestors. Jock rowed crew at Yale and shortly after graduating inherited a boat load of money upon his Father's death and later inherited more when his mother died.As they say, he made money the old fashioned way...he inherited it...
He parlayed some of these funds into a traditional sportsman's pursuit: Horse racing. He rode in England's Grand National in 1929 and boasted 4 entries in the Kentucky Derby in the 1930s.
In addition to his prowess as a rider and breeder, Jock was an excellent polo player.My research indicates he was a 4 Goal player which means he knew what he was doing.

During World War II Whitney served in the OSS and was captured by the Nazis. He effectuated a fairly daring escape when the train on which he was being taken to POW camp was strafed by Allied fighters.
His life included much financial success and he was a generous philanthropist. He served as U.S. Ambassador to the U.K. ,an aspiration he described in his Yale yearbook.
Throughout his life he was involved in horse breeding and racing and he had the financial muscle to do it well. There are many other interesting facets of Whitney's life including his dabbling in Broadway and Hollywood productions, cavorting with famous and infamous broads of the day and his coining of the term "crew-cut"....but it is his career in equestrian pursuits which make him notable as a Sportsman.
Finally, for you Tradophites and Prepophiles...Jock was quite well turned out in sportswear in these shots....tweeds, riding kit, white bucks,straw boater etc.