Sunday, July 29, 2012

"That's so wrong."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

H. A. Crosby Forbes, 1925-2012

UPDATE: A memorial service for Crosby Forbes will take place on June 23, 2013 at the Harvard Club of Boston. All are invited.

Thanks to Karina Corrigan at the Peabody Essex Museum for this beautiful biography.

From: Karina Corrigan <>
Date: Mon, Jul 23, 2012 at 12:22 PM
Subject: Henry Ashton Crosby Forbes
To: Every User <>

Last night, we received the sad news that Crosby Forbes, Curator Emeritus of Asian Export Art died peacefully over the weekend in New Haven.

A descendant of Robert Bennet Forbes, one of America's great China trade merchants, Crosby charted an unlikely path for himself when, in 1965, he founded the Museum of the American China Trade in a home he'd inherited from his great aunt.

One of the earliest scholars to look specifically at this type of cross-cultural art and history, Crosby was a leading force in the field for over forty years. He was a frequent lecturer and writer on all aspects of Asian export art and in 1975, Crosby wrote (with John Devereux Kernan and Ruth Wilkins) Chinese Export Silver: 1785-1885, which remains the definitive volume on the subject.

Crosby continually expanded the scope of the field, later redefining the museum's collecting goals to include works from throughout Asia and for diverse markets - Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. In 1984, the China Trade Museum (as it was then called) merged its Asian export art with the Peabody Museum to form one of the world's great collections of this type of art. A rigorous scholar, Crosby and his wife Grace were also generous donors, contributing hundreds of works from their own collection to the museum.

He led a vibrant life outside of the museum, serving on boards of many organizations and was always willing to share his considered opinions - sometimes with people who were perhaps less eager to hear them. A passionate preservationist, Crosby was never afraid to challenge his alma mater and neighbor, Harvard University, about the disposition of its many historic structures.

He was the devoted husband of Grace Pierce Forbes, a book editor and Russian scholar, loving father of two sons, Robert and Douglas Forbes, and grandfather of Rob's two children Rachel and David.

Crosby was too ill to make it up from New Haven this year, but I feel confident that he would have been delighted by the fresh breeze that Freeport [No. 5]: Michael Lin has brought the Asian export art wing including the silver galleries that bear his name. I hope you'll take the opportunity to spend some time this week in the collection he helped to build, remembering the life of this inspiring, charming, and wonderful man. And I'm sure he'd be delighted if you had a piece of chocolate cake in his honor as well!

Burial will be private, but a memorial service is planned for later this year. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Violence Lobby

I spent several years in the 90s working on gun control. Almost made it a profession. Along the way, I had some successes and learned a lot: for example, the campaign (unsuccessful) to fend off the Connecticut assault weapons ban was coordinated from Dade County, Florida--at the time the main U.S. entry point for cocaine. The gun lobby is the professional criminals' lobby--and they carry the amateurs like the Aurora killer along with them.

For decades--from the 1880s through the 1940s--Congress failed to pass a bill against lynching. Lynching is plain and simple murder. It set law and order at naught and brutalized and debased an entire region, the American South. It should hardly be necessary to outlaw murder, but the extrajudicial murder of black people had the sanction of society--or rather, the sanction of those who were prepared to use lethal violence.

Thus it was not just "politics" that prevented passage of an anti-lynching law. It's never just politics when lethal violence and the threat of violence is employed.

More after the jump.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Constitutional rebus

Figure it out, then post your own.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Yale & Unions not in the news--and that's good

I just received the following in an aldermanic update from Adam Marchand, alderman for Ward 27:
Last week the members of Locals 34 and 35, the two largest unions at Yale, overwhelmingly ratified new contracts with the region's largest employer.  These agreements on wages and benefits are themselves an economic boon to our community, and the fact that the parties avoided the kind of strife associated with past negotiations should be applauded.  Of great interest to New Haven was the inclusion in these agreements of commitments to recruit, train, and hire New Haven residents into good, stable jobs at Yale.
The fact that a ratified contract between Yale and the unions is not news, is big news. Those who have been in New Haven for several decades will recall the days when each contract expiration portended an ugly, bitter, protracted conflict, providing front-page news for weeks. These days, the unremarkable details of contract settlements are relegated to the B section of the Register. This speaks well of all concerned, starting with Mayor DeStefano, who presided over the ceasefire almost twenty years ago.