the Wanderling

I graduated from high school with a major in art and a minor in journalism. Although I have since earned two graduate degrees neither are associated in any fashion to journalism on any formal level. My bachelor's degree, earned following my discharge from the Army using the G.I. Bill after having been drafted, is however, in art and I chose art as a major for my degree because art is what I knew how to do.

As a young boy growing up my dream was to be a particle physicist, astrophysicist, or cosmologist, but after memorizing the multiplication table in grade school and began moving up into higher grade levels my interest in figures stumbled when I began learning about 36-22-36. Even so, after receiving a B.A., I did continue into a fifth year and student teaching as a requirement for a secondary teaching credential to teach art on the high school level. I never taught high school. I did however, fold over the required units needed for the additional fifth year into a graduate program and teach at the college level. Interestingly enough, for a common run-in-the-mill layperson with a driving interest in cosmology, I have been very fortunate in meeting two of the areas top dogs. In 1952 I met Albert Einstein and in 2003, Stephen Hawking. These days my interests in those of similar ilk leans towards Assistant Professor in Astrophysics at Princeton University, Alexandra Amon, pictured below

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As far as I know the high school I attended, Redondo Union High School, and it's art department has produced only one fine arts artist of any renown, that being one Mowry Baden who graduated two years before me. Even though the art department had two accomplished artists as teachers, Caesar Hernandez and Jack McLain, and both were teachers while Baden was a student, or at least Hernandez was, Baden didn't take off artistic-wise until his college years. Baden gives no credit for his high school years as being any sort of a positive influence on his work or success.

As far as teachers, Hernandez, known for his very well done and on the realistic side watercolors, was a nuts-and-bolts sort of guy, the ABC's and 123's of learning art while McLain was more of a "stuck in the era at the time" Jackson Pollock abstract impressionist. The two teachers combined, with the solid foundation of art technique from Hernandez, and the more-or-less free flowing approach by McClain made for a good outcome for any student that was astute and creative enough to embrace it. They gave you all the wealth you needed to be creative, what you did with that wealth was your own prerogative. Neither claimed any strengths in 3-D aspects of art and although RUHS had a fabulous ceramics department, armature supported life sculpture in clay was not part of it, let alone anything else of an extreme nature. What I loved though was perspective and isometric drawing gleaned from the drafting department, one of the best in the nation at the time, and how to incorporate it into my unpropagated and stifled area of expertise, hand drawn film animation.

Hernandez and I got along appreciatively well, but, even though one might just think the opposite, McLain had our differences. One of our problems was Jackson Pollock. Not his artwork, his action paintings, abstract expressionism, or Pollock himself, but the fact that I a teenage kid in high school had met him. When I brought it up or mentioned my Uncle and Pollock had worked together a number of times in the depression era Federal Art Project section of the WPA and were actually friends, McClain would get all sullen and clam up. Even more so when I said I might be able to get my uncle to come out from New Mexico and talk about Jackson to a gathering of art majors. I know ten years after I graduated McClain had created a large stainless steel kinetic sculpture of a seahawk with a number of students, moving it from the classroom into the halls then eventually outside which was more Baden like than Pollock like. If Baden had any influence I'm sure it would have been more through reverse osmosis rather than direct contact, however.

Although my technique and execution of art is, and/or was fairly good at one time, where I fell short as a fine arts artist in the visual arts and more specifically painting, was an inability to innately grasp or have a built in intuitive second nature understanding of what is known as color theory. My sense of perspective and its use was practically beyond equal as was a built in understanding for incorporating the Golden Mean. But colors? I was a primary red, yellow, and blue guy. Roy Lichtenstein or Jasper John when it came to creating an art work under classroom conditions, neither of which artist was known to exist when I was in high school.

Even though I have pieces of my art in the permanent collections of seven major European cities I am relatively unknown as an artist in America, and for sure in Redondo. More on that later. Right now I want to turn your attention to one of my first major art works and of which was done while I was still in high school and how any of it, some of it, or none of it led to Renaissance UFO's and outer space.

A year or so before I started high school and unknown to most of my peers and not known by me just as well, a semi-bohemian literary movement began taking root in various parts of the U.S. that eventually grew to such a point that by my second year in high school I had become more than peripherally aware of it. The movement, given the name The Beat Generation, was mainly centered in and around San Francisco's North Beach, Venice West in Los Angeles, and Greenwich Village in New York City. Two of the top movers, both of whom would become renowned poets in their own right, were Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso. In that a number of prominent members of the Beat movement, especially the inner circle, had been Merchant Marines, through my really close Merchant Marine Friend, before his death while I was still in high school, I met a few Beat personalities including Bob Kaufman and briefly in passing, Jack Kerouac as well as later, in Southeast Asia, Hope Savage, the Beat movement's missing woman.

In the South Bay just around that same time and into after graduation for me, although never reaching anywhere near the level as the other aforementioned Beat places, and with me not really knowing a whole lot about the Beat movement in those days, I started hanging out at the Iconoclast Coffee House in Redondo Beach and the Insomniac Coffee House in Hermosa Beach, hoping to be or at least think I was "cool" and possibly even absorb some of the movement trends.

The Iconoclast was just a few steps east up the hill from El Paseo and the Horseshoe Pier on Wall Street in Redondo while the Insomniac was a few miles north on Pier Avenue just across the street from Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse in Hermosa. Betty Jean at the Iconoclast was cool, but of the two places, the best part for me was taking home to my place an extraordinarily fabulously beautiful young redhead, an Insomniac regular, regularly. Or at least once in a while, or on occasion. Or maybe just once or twice, by the name of Jolene. Unfortunately Jolene, who was highly polyamorous, loved speed even more, and sadly dead from Bennies before having even reached the end of the 1960s.

Although I attempted to write a few Beat poems while still in high school, only one has proved the test of time and that's one I wrote as an ode to a fellow classmate named Barbara Lynn "Bobbi" Brown and based on the rhyme, beat and tempo of a 1953 poem by Allen Ginsberg titled Green Valentine Blues. As it has turned out. the poem has become more of an ode to a woman named Barbara Back, the closest female friend and confidant of the famed British author and playwright W. Somerset Maugham than any Barbara I ever knew in high school.

Not long after composing the poem I was visiting a friend when I noticed he had two nearly identical same size flat surface small granite slabs sitting on a shelf in his garage doing no more than gathering dust. He said he found them when he hiked to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite a few years before. Other than the fact that he just liked them, with no real reason of what he was going to do with either of the slabs, he brought them home. Since then, other than what they had been doing, sitting on the shelf in the garage collecting dust, that was about it.

I told him I had written a poem recently and thought it should be carved into stone. So that's what we did. After promising to fix up the older brother of a friend of mine who worked for an outfit that finished tombstones and such with the sister of another friend of mine, he ground and polished one surface of both slabs. Then, over a period of several nights, using a hand held high speed Dremel grinding tool and both stone slabs because of the poem's 18 lines, we engraved or etched as the case may be, the poem onto the slabs. Then he and I drove up to Yosemite and retracing his steps, climbed to the top of Half Dome. When we reached a point along the top where we could, after practicing for weeks as a discus thrower, we threw the slabs out over the edge with the two poem etched slabs falling straight down onto the Dome's talus slope on the valley floor some 4,700 feet below. To my knowledge both of the etched slabs are still there.

Elsewhere in my works I write about a former college professor that had been a member of my graduate committee and who I had worked with as a colleague after graduation. As a person and a teacher he was highly regarded by students but not so highly thought of by most of the faculty. He was never granted a Full Professorship from his long held Associated Professor position, and although not on an official level but more behind his back, he left quasi disgraced amongst his peers. Hypocrites that they were, he had divorced his first wife and married a graduate student of a much younger age not long after she graduated. From then on it was as though he had a communicable disease. A few short years later he and his graduate student wife separated, and although they never divorced she moved back east and he moved to Twentynine Palms in the California high desert, where not long afterward he died of prostate cancer.

During one of those graduate school years my committee member professor and his ex graduate student girlfriend and now wife decided to travel in Europe for the summer. Prior to their departure I created seven 8-1/2 X 11 inch fully signed and dated, easy to pack works of art, one each in a different visual arts media, each in a presentation mode befitting its traditionally accepted characteristics. Each of the seven were intended for a different European city with each having either imagery or media-kinds and/or both selected as close as possible for its association of use with a particular city. The cities were London, Paris, Barcelona, Florence, Rome, Venice, and Amsterdam. For the media types I started with the basic black graphite pencil, then moved on to colored pencil, ink, charcoal, watercolor, oil paint, and finally silkscreen.

The professor, upon arrival at each of the individual cities visited the museum most representative of being the pinnacle of the art culture of that particular city, the Louvre in Paris for example, then, carefully photographing and documenting the date, day, time and place including entrance ticket stubs or equivalent, the professor tore the art work into small pieces and placed the pieces into the institution's most prominent official trash receptacle located closest to the museum's most prominent spot. Eventually that trash receptacle would be officially collected by museum personnel and like most trash permanently deposited in some fashion.

Thus then, through the combined effort of not only being championed by a professor of a major California university (30,000 plus enrollment) of a fully accredited art department, but also from members of the museum personnel of the seven major museums directly responsible for maintaining a high level of their collections, ensuring they would not degrade to such a point the museum loses credibility of the public, and for all parties having done so, I, as an unheralded American artist, had fully signed pieces of art that I created placed in the permanent collections of seven major museums in seven major cities throughout Europe.

Now we come to the "outer space to the Renaissance" portion so mentioned in the title of this page. The Renaissance portion stems initially from an early childhood infatuation with Leonardo Da Vinci and more specifically so, his flying machines. The outer space portion comes together from a number of astronomy, movies, comic books, and space related experiences from that same childhood and the outcomes thereof.

Although it wasn't known to be so until years later, the first "space-related" incident in my young life occurred when I was a still a very young boy living with my parents on the 300 block of south Lucia in Redondo Beach. In the still dark early morning hours after midnight of February 25, 1942 a giant air borne object of an unknown origin thought to be war-related at the time rather than space-related, flew right over the top of my house probably less than 200 feet off the ground. After being hit directly with more than 1400 anti-aircraft rounds the butterfly shaped object some say was 800 feet long and as large as a Zeppelin, escaped out over the Pacific Ocean in a southern direction seemingly unharmed The flyover of the object, that later became known as The Battle of Los Angeles: 1942 UFO, was not considered as being space-related until more recent times, however.


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The second incident was totally space-related and basically started several years before with the death of my mother. Prior to her death she became to ill to care for herself let alone my two brothers and me. Eventually she was placed in a full time care facility. With my dad increasingly working more and more hours to meet expenses my brothers and I were farmed out to others. The couple I went to live with took me, without my father's consent, to India, with me missing several months of school in the process. Upon my return, for reasons unclear, the couple simply dropped me off unannounced at my grandmother on my father's side in Pennsylvania. From there I was returned to my grandmother on my mother's side in California.

For that trip I traveled by train, with adult supervisors unknown, first from Philadelphia to Chicago. In Chicago I transferred to the premier all Pullman first class passenger train to Los Angeles, the Santa Fe Chief. Toward midnight of July 3, 1944, between Flagstaff, Arizona and Williams, on a high speed downhill run and behind schedule, the Chief's powerful locomotive, the #3774 Baldwin 4-8-4 Northern with 80 inch drive wheels and clocking out at over 90 miles per hour, hit a marked 55 mph speed limit curve, with the locomotive derailing and sliding in the dirt on it's side off the tracks for nearly the length of two football fields. The rest of the 14 car train ended up in various stages of derailment and wreckage on and off the track, some cars remaining upright with two actually staying on the tracks undamaged. The fireman and three passengers were killed. 113 passengers along with 13 train employees injured, among them the severely injured engineer.

A few years later found me reunited with my brothers as my dad had remarried. My stepmother was quite wealthy and paid to have everything done. When it came to me, in that my uncle, my dad's brother and a well established artist in Santa Fe, New Mexico, had been coming back and forth to assist my grandmother with me, my stepmother convinced him to come to Los Angeles and oversee me on a full time basis. During the summer of 1947, with my uncle needing to take care of some business in New Mexico he thought it was time for me to see some of the southwest. Soon as summer vacation started we headed out to visit a number of major and minor highlights in the west, including Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, Painted Desert, Petrified Forest, Carlsbad Cavern, Mount Rushmore, and Yellowstone National Park. One of the places we visited was the site of the train wreck outside Williams, Arizona to pay homage to the dead and thanks for the living. We arrived at the site the morning of July 3, 1947 coordinating our journey with the third year anniversary of the crash that had occurred around midnight July 3, 1944.

Finished giving our respects at the crash site, of which no visible signs remained that there ever was a crash, we headed toward Fort Sumner, New Mexico to see the gravesite of Billy the Kid. All along the way we had been basically living and traveling in the backcountry, moving from site to site and camping along the way with very little contact with the outside world. I was fast asleep in my sleeping bag somewhere in the desert near Fort Sumner on the night of, it is thought, Friday, July 4, 1947, when around midnight my uncle, who had been sitting up pondering the stars and possibly his insignificance in the overall scheme of things, through a smattering of clouds, saw a brilliant meteor-like object streak across the night sky arcing downward to the Earth toward a fast moving lightning infested stormy horizon, all the while dissipating a string of quickly extinguishing small glowing hunks or particles dropping in it's wake. Thinking it was a meteor and thinking his friend the famed astronomer and meteorite hunter Dr. Lincoln La Paz might be interested in a fresh strike, my uncle began an effort to contact him. In that it was long before the days of cell phones it took a couple of days for the two of them to connect. La Paz informed my uncle that from all indications whatever he saw streak across the sky that night it was NOT a meteor nor a known aircraft of some type --- but whatever it was, after talking with La Paz my uncle was chaffing at the bit to go to the suspected impact site and see for himself. Because of the July 3rd anniversary of the train wreck, then crossing the desert to visit the gravesite of Billy the Kid, it put us sleeping in the desert in the vicinity of Fort Sumner on the Fourth of July weekend. What it all adds up to of course, turns out to be the Roswell UFO. See:


Except for one more thing, the above was the end of it for me when it came to actually participating in anything similar. That one exception occurred just past the middle of May 1953, about two weeks or so before the end of my first year in high school. My Uncle, all excited, called me from his home in New Mexico and without even thinking about school, wanted to know if I thought my dad would let me catch a Greyhound bus as soon as I could and meet him in Kingman, Arizona. He said it would be an adventure of a lifetime and that he expected all hell to break loose in a few weeks because the same thing that had happened out in the flatlands near Roswell had happened in the desert near Kingman. He told me the news had filtered down to him through some Native Americans who had scouted the area. He said a couple of the Hualapai trackers who were part of the group could get us in through the back door.

When I asked my dad if I could go he blew his stack. He got on the phone and started yelling at my uncle that he was filling my mind with all kinds of "weird and useless shit" and to stay away from me and keep his "cock-and-bull stories" to himself. Needless to say that was the end of it and I didn't get to go.

In 1950 my father and Stepmother went on an extended two-year trip to Mexico and South America. Once again our de facto family was split up and I was sent to live under the care of a foster couple, my third not counting relatives, since my mother's illness and eventual passing.

In the time period we are talking about here I was older, around 11 or 12, with history. Placing me was getting harder and harder. We had pretty much ran through every friend, family member, and shirt-tail relative we could find. With my father, stepmother, brothers and grandmother all elsewhere with lives of their own and my uncle just on the cusp of returning to Santa Fe and not able to take me, I was basically left hanging. Without many options, after some heavy negotiating that bordered on pure begging by my uncle he was eventually able to convince the woman who had agreed to care for my younger brother to take me in as well.

Once moved, I don't recall if I started at the beginning of a school year or just broke in somewhere along the way, but I do know by April 1951 I was fully ensconced, however good or bad, and my uncle was long gone. I can easily pinpoint April of 1951 because on Friday, April 6th (some dates say the 27th) the science fiction movie The Thing was released and the next day I rode my bike for miles from our neat and prim tract home, clear up to the somewhat suspect-area of Imperial Highway and Vermont Avenue, the closest place the movie was playing. The woman of the couple had told me not to go or take my brother, of which I did both and she was livid. I remember that date specifically because I got in a lot of trouble that weekend, although, if I remember correctly, the movie was worth it. Before my stepmother left she fixed me up with a part time and on-the-weekend job with a friend of hers who owned the Normandie Club, a card club not far from where my brother and I were living with the couple. A good portion of my income was spent on me going to the movies to see what was then a seemingly never ending series of science fiction movies as soon as they came out such as Rocketship XM, Destination Moon, Man From Planet X, Flight to Mars, and The Thing. The more rocketship and flying saucer-like the movie was the more I had to see it.(see)

On September 18, 1951, the year before I started high school, the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still was released. Four years later, unrelated, and by then me being a senior, a discussion between myself and the person I call my mentor came up about Leonardo Da Vinci and his flying machine and how as a kid a comic book induced me into both building and attempting to fly my own machine. The story, titled 500 Years Too Soon appeared in True Comics, No. 58, March 1947, of which my copy was either long gone or stashed away deep in a couple of trunks in my father's storage unit.


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My Mentor, the primary role model for Larry Darrel, the main character in Somerset Maugham's The Razor's Edge, an American just like in the book, had been a fighter pilot during World War One flying for the British against the Germans before the U.S. entered the war and found my attempt to build and fly my own flying machine intriguing, so much so he was willing to go with me to one of the major comic books stores to see if we could find a copy. Sure enough they had a copy, and in much better condition than I remember mine being. Two highly interesting things happened that day, both of which triggered similar space related outcomes relative to me and my mentor. First, the store had a poster of The Day the Earth Stood Still on display that when discussing it, I made clear references to flying saucers. Secondly, when my mentor was going through the Da Vinci comic book he came across a few drawings of major buildings in Florence, one of which that had on exhibit a Renaissance painting done in the 1500's, around the same time as Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, that had a UFO in the background. That painting is depicted in a circular manner at the top of this page. Of the two graphics below the one on the left is from the Da Vinci comic book that my mentor saw and related it to where the painting with the UFO is located, shown in the graphic to the right. The name of the painting is Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John and is on exhibit in the Hercules Room of Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, Italy. Just beneath the first two graphics below is an enlarged image of that UFO and the shepherd and his dog looking at it.


On November 15, 1951, one month after The Day the Earth Stood Still was released, When Worlds Collide was released. As the story line goes a rogue star, given the name Bellus, was on a direct collision course with Earth. Orbiting Bellus was a single earth-like planet given the name Zyra. Although all prospects indicated Earth would be destroyed it seemed Zyra would escape unharmed. The story follows the idea of transporting those that they can to Zyra by building a huge spaceship in the midst of earthquakes, volcanic activity, tidal waves, and floods as Zyra makes a close pass to Earth, to be followed shortly thereafter by an impending Earth-Bellus collision. The young, just teenage boy that I was, was somehow taken by the idea of building huge ark-like spaceships to transport humankind to other planets in order to continue our survival

Thirty-three years later, on April 6, 1984 the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), using the space shuttle Challenger, launched into orbit what was called a Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF). The LDEF was a hollow cylinder shaped structure as large as a school bus designed with a number of same width flat surfaces running the full length of the structure with the ability to hold a total of 57 different trays of experiments.


Originally intended to be in orbit twelve months (one year) the LDEF ended up in orbit 69 months (5.7 years), completing 32,422 orbits covering a total distance of 853,796,644 miles. NASA, after coming up with their plan and ensuring the project would be a go, they began putting out a request for proposals. After approaching NASA and receiving all of the necessary paperwork I submitted an application for consideration of approval. As presented, my idea was to put into orbit for long duration exposure the same materials that ancient historical and Renaissance masters used in their artworks to see how those materials would withstand the long term rigors of space. Since I would not be able to obtain samples of what Leonardo Da Vinci used for the Mona Lisa for example, I did have access to the same quarries the marble used in sculpting most of the major Renaissance masterpieces came from, so in my proposal I suggested using that as a medium for my initial attempt. The reasoning behind my reasoning for a need to do so was that if humankind found itself in an overwhelming position that they had to leave Earth en mass in order to survive that they should take with them the historical masterpieces that contributed to humankind being humankind. My proposal was rejected. NASA's reasoning was if mankind found itself in need to evacuate the planet in the short term we wouldn't have the ability, technology, or resources to successfully do so, let alone haul pieces of artwork along. On the other hand, NASA reasoned, if mankind found itself in the far future a need to disembark the Earth for survival, all kinds of information would have been gathered by then to successfully accomplish such a task, so any information that would have been gathered during my efforts would have been completely overshadowed.

A number of individuals associated with the edges of the project, catching wind of my proposal, found it most interesting, seeing humankind with all that was most important, sailing across space in a vast ark to find another Earth. They decided to instigate anonymously a way to possibly put my proposal into motion. In doing so they lined up a few special people already known to have their proposals accepted that would be sympathetic to my cause.

I met with a couple of people who ensured me it could be done, but since my original proposal had been rejected it would have to be done so on the sly. Thus, the object would have to be small enough to be Inconspicuous, concealable, or easily disguised and or all of the above. When they meant small they were talking not much larger in diameter than a pencil, two at the most, more oval shape than round, no more than three inches long, and the closer to two the better. I was about to throw in the towel when I decided to see what I could do rather than give up. After all, they were willing if I could live with the restraints.

In the end, without anybody knowing about it, it all worked out.

But I wasn't at the end. I was just at the beginning, with my first step being to get the Carrera marble I wanted. I didn't want just any piece of Carrara marble either. Since I was being limited on size, shape, and weight, the Carrera marble I wanted to use, if not size and weight, had to carry some meaning behind it, in other words, a piece of marble with history.


Probably the most famous and significantly historical single piece of carved Carrara marble in the world is the statue of David, completed in 1501 by Michelangelo, and beyond reach even for my vivid imagination. Below is a picture that depicts the real Michelangelo David in it's present location inside the Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence, Italy. There is a replica David in the original David's outside location in the previously mentioned Palazzo Vecchio, the seat of civic government in Florence, in the Piazza della Signoria. By clicking the graphic below you will be taken to an enlarged photo clearly showing David and it's outside location where the original stood close to four centuries before being moved inside.


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There was, however, an exact carved duplicate within easy reach for me in the United States without going to Italy, but getting what I had in mind would be almost as difficult as doing so with Michelangelo's original. The replica David stood in all of it's open glory at Forest Lawn in Cypress, California. It was originally installed in 1967 after having been carved by Italian artists using Carrara marble from the same quarry that provided the material used by Michelangelo for the original in 1501. After reconnoitering the area and taking several photographs I approached a master sculptor adept in the carving of marble asking him, in a a hypothetical, how he would go about removing the piece I wanted without unduly disfiguring the sculpture. Showing me the tools he would use and marking off on the photographs where and how he would make his initial indentations and final cleavage I then began making preparations to do so myself. Being an exact replica of .Michelangelo's David the statue stood 17 feet tall above the stand it was placed on, with the area I was interested in being nine feet above the stand, well beyond the reach of me doing what I wanted done.

I had a number of options to draw upon to accomplish what I was after ranging from what is known in Sanskrit as Siddhis to the more traditional. Siddhis have a way of extracting a price that sometimes seem more unreasonable or at least unknowable than found in the traditional, so my first choice was traditional albeit possibly somewhat unsavory.

With the help of a couple of friends, a paper pusher on the inside, and a quasi-borderline unscrupulous groundskeeper willing to participate for a just compensation, a just compensation well beyond my means to pay, but with me becoming just as much if not even more so quasi-borderline unscrupulous, did so anyway. The piece of desired marble was successfully removed without incident, leaving only a slightly modified but acceptable different shape and a minor discolorization, both of which that standing at ground level, except for a trained eye, was all but indetectable. Once I had the piece of marble in my hands the next step was to start carving.

After I got to looking at what I actually had to work with, including the size restraints, I figured the end piece, albeit to be carved from Carrara marble, would be more cameo-like than fully rounded sculpture-like. The idea of a cameo-like piece became even stronger once the dual meaning of the word "cameo" was taken into consideration against what I was creating. In one meaning cameo meant a small piece of sculpture on a stone or shell cut in relief. It's other meaning was a small role, sometimes no more than a walk-on, often unrecognized or uncredited, by a distinguished actor in a performance. In both cases what could be more appropriate. When done, the piece was shown to the inner group that would be most surreptitiously responsible. They had made and brought with them a life size hard stock paper facsimile, a mock-up if you like, of where and how the piece would be placed and after a requested but seemingly needed on-the-spot narrowing down modification of the edges to the completed piece because of size restrictions, they took it along. I also gave them tools and instructions on how to implement further last minute modifications if necessary, something that was never needed.

Of the LDEF's different trays of experiments, the art piece was in a section of one of the 57 larger accepted proposals called Space Environment Effects on Spacecraft Materials, more specifically designated as M0003. Of the 19 experiments of the M0003 sub-experiments, each from a different company or agency, one was designed to study the effects of long distance space exposure on composite materials, electronic piece parts, and fiber optics. Many of the materials of the sub-experiments were not considered advanced, having been in use on already in place satellite systems, while others were baseline materials against which performance improvements could be measured. Part of the experiment included the use of a six inch deep peripheral tray and a 3 inch deep peripheral tray, From the mock-up I had seen, the sculpture piece must have been secreted away in the 3 inch deep tray.


The LDEF was launched April 6, 1984 and after being in orbit 5.7 years the space shuttle Columbia recovered it on January 12, 1990. The Columbia landed eight days later at Edwards Air Force Base runway 22 on January 20th. Three months later, roughly around my birthday in April of 1990, I received a bubble-wrapped envelope with a Boeing Seattle post office box return address shipping label, addressed to me and written by hand. In the envelope was the sculpture piece, and, except possibly a little darker, looking all the same as it did when handed it over. Accompanying the piece was a standard size blue-lined index card with a red line at the top that had typed in all lower case: 32,422 orbits, 853,796,644 miles with the letters mk, lb. That was it.

Forest Lawn's first full sized carved replica of Michelangelo's David was installed in their Glendale facility in 1937. It stood undisturbed until February 8, 1971 when the Sylmar earthquake toppled it to the ground. After hearing parts of the statue were in storage my initial intention was to get the piece of Carrara marble I wanted from there. However, when I heard the Glendale version had a fig leaf covering the area I was interested in I turned my interests toward the Cypress version. It just so happened that three years after I obtained the piece of marble from the area I wanted the Cypress version crashed to the ground by the 1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake, breaking into several large pieces.

Following a request by Donald Lagerberg, a former CSUF art professor, Forest Lawn donated the broken hunks to California State University, Fullerton. In 1989 the pieces were then put on display in an outdoor sculpture garden type setting and given the name "Fallen David," as depicted in the above graphic. It has since become a tradition for students to pat the buttocks-up portion of the statue for good luck before taking a test. Little do they know that on the face-down side David provided a part of his anatomy in all but a circumcision to be shot into space and circulate our home planet nearly six years only to return after racking up close to one billion miles. The buttocks-up portion can be seen in the graphic top center right just above David's left ankle. To see an enlarged close-up of the face down portion before I intervened and before it fell click HERE.

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Michelangelo, is of course, known as a famed sculptor, but he also has a powerful reputation as a painter, re his massive undertaken painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

The ceiling of the chapel as painted by Michelangelo pretty much tells the story of the leading up to Christ's birth. Most of the major players of the First Testament are there. Adam and Eve, Noah, David and Goliath, along with most of the major prophets and sibyls including the Cumaean Sibyl. Michelangelo's painted rendition of David varies greatly from his giant carved marble version. The carved version shows David before the slaying Goliath while his painted version shows David after he brought down Goliath and just in the act of slaying him. Michelangelo's carved statue David is completely unclothed. In the painting David is wearing a shirt with long sleeves, a cape and possibly armor. The two graphics directly below are by Michelangelo from the Sistine Chapel. The one on the left David the one on the right the Cumaean Sibyl





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"A good portion of my income was spent on me going to the movies to see what was then a seemingly never ending series of science fiction movies as soon as they came out such as Rocketship XM, Destination Moon, Man From Planet X, Flight to Mars, and The Thing. The more rocketship and flying saucer-like the movie was the more I had to see it."









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As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS

The replica of the statue of David can be seen at the end of the street lower right of center.
















During the early part of the year 1963, after having been drafted in the latter part of 1962, I had moved from Basic Training at Fort Ord, California to being fully ensconced in training and the goings on of the Southeastern Signal Corps School in Fort Gordon, Georgia. However, even though I had only just earned my Private First Class stripes from the slick sleeve I was, because of my ability with Morse code, a near savant as my civilian instructors continued to tell my chain of command officers, before completion of Signal School I was sent on my second TDY military experience, the first having been while I was still a buck private in basic training at the same time as the Cuban Missile Crisis.

My TDY destination from Fort Gordon was the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. I was sent to be part of a several week observed study control group working with initially ten, dropped to five, specially selected cadets supposedly versed in the intricacies of Morse code. The idea was to find out what I had that they didn't and once found could it be learned or replicated.

The father of one of the cadets in the group owned a yacht that one weekend he sailed up the Hudson River from some affluent suburb of New York City, hoping to spend some time with his son. The son invited several cadet friends and me to hang out with him on the boat, which, being a few notches better than nothing, I did. As what would eventually become usual for me nothing identified me as to my rank or status, so nobody really knew if I was an officer, an enlisted man, or maybe even a civilian. Often, for people who own yachts sometimes things like that matter. For example, the cadet's sister. If she had known I was a lowly private and not one of the group at large she probably wouldn't have even talked to me. Same with the dad. It came out between the father and I that we both knew David J. Halliburton Sr. and both had been on his yacht the Twin Dolphin, both several times. I told the father I knew Halliburton because as a young man he had a serious crush on my stepmother's niece, which is true. Halliburton's family lived right across the street from my stepmother and during the summer her niece would babysit me. In reality though I knew Halliburton later in life because I was a crew member on his yacht, a mere sander of wood. Of course I didn't tell the dad that and he automatically put me higher up on the scale of things. Years later Halliburton did so as well after the connection with my stepmother's niece became clear.

In any case, as it turned out, from February 4, 1963 to March 4, 1963, after having been on exhibit in Washington D.C., but before returning to the Louvre in Paris, and for the only time ever, Leonardo Da Vinci's painting the Mona Lisa was in the U.S. and on exhibit at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, a period of time that overlapped the exact same time I was at West Point. More than that, it just so happened the father of the cadet had long time philanthropic ties in support the museum and had at his beckon call special VIP passes to see the exhibit. When we got to talking and he thought I was right up there with Halliburton in the scheme of things and I expressed an overwhelming desire to see the Mona Lisa, as soon as he could arrange it and his soon and his son and I could get time off he sent a car up to West Point to pick us. We were whisked into the museum ahead of the hours long crowds and as others were being ushered through after viewing the painting, our neck lanyard identification allowed to stay as long as we wanted.


"Thousands of visitors waited in line for the doors to open when on February 7, 1963, the Mona Lisa went on view to the public at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. More than one million New Yorkers went to see the painting during the month-long exhibition, enduring winter cold and rain, as 'Mona Mania' swept the nation."

Da Vinci's Masterpiece Captivated a Nation

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Although I had been to Europe before I was drafted I had never seen the Pieta. Before I had a chance something almost as unusual as seeing the Mona Lisa happened.

The very next year following my discharge from the Army, on the occasion of my birthday day that year, found me once again in New York City and again in pursuit of seeing a masterpiece in real life. Only this time however, I was a civilian and the masterpiece was not done by Leonardo, but by his chief rival in things artistic, Michelangelo.

It was opening day of the 1965 World's Fair in New York City. My destination at the fair that day was the Vatican Pavilion, which had on display Michelangelo's Pieta, shipped across the seas from St. Peter's Basilica exclusively for the World's Fair. This time, unlike my VIP treatment for the Mona Lisa, I was standing in line with thousands of others to race across the fair grounds to see Michelangelo's masterpiece. And see it I did. After waiting in line for hours then getting on a regulated-speed moving conveyor belt that went right in front of the sculpture all the while determining how long you can remain. Even squeezing back eventually you are forced off the conveyor belt, and in order to see the Pieta again you have to get back in line. Clever.