“Will They Divide the Pot?”

“Will They Divide the Pot?” (December 5, 1941)
by John Tinney McCutcheon (1870-1949)
14 x 14 in., ink on drawing board
Coppola Collection

On the Purdue campus, where he was a student, McCutcheon (class of 1889) is memorialized in a coeducational dormitory, John T. McCutcheon Hall. The lobby displays an original of one of his drawings, a nearly life-size drawing of a young man.

After college, McCutcheon moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he worked at the Chicago Morning News (later: Chicago Record) and then at the Chicago Tribune from 1903 until his retirement in 1946. McCutcheon received the Pulitzer Prize for Cartoons in 1932.

In June 1941, WW2 took a sharp turn. There was war in Europe, in China, and in North Africa… and in 6 months, the US would be brought into it through the attack at Pearl Harbor. In June, though, Hitler turned on Russia and took the gambit that he could take Moscow in a well-structured, all out assault to the East.

Operation Barbarossa moved the German forces systematically forward, and within a few hundred miles of Moscow. Operation Typhoon was meant to take the prize and end the effort in victory. But the Russian roads were poor, and their rails were wider than the Germans, so the trains were stuck. Soon, the Germans were lacking food, ammo, and fuel, and soon, the proper clothing for the Russian winter, which they were not anticipating to face.

Operation Typhoon has been described as a stalemate of a boxing match, with lots of blows being landed but nothing gained beyond exhaustion and mutual damage. In early October, the wet season turned the battlefields into mud-pits that the Russians were better at negotiating.

The weather turned colder in November, improving the mobility of the Wehrmacht, who got within 12 miles of the Russian capitol by the end of the month.

Then the tide turned again. In early December, the temperature dropped to -40 (pick your scale, they converge here). Siberian-trained Russians, in fur-lined snow-white gear, tore through the Germans, pushing them back 150 miles. Hitler’s troops were ordered to not back down, and the seesaw occupation along the Eastern Front continued through the war.


A Cruise Ship is safer than a Campus

A Cruise Ship is safer than a Campus

The optimism for re-opening campuses to in-person activity in the fall is being cast as “cautious” and “guarded” and “prudent,” which are all the new euphemisms for reckless and unsafe. The only situation about the pandemic that has changed since mid-March is the behavior of people, who isolated from one another to interfere with the only thing that could be controlled: the physical transmission of the coronavirus. The behavior of the coronavirus is unaffected. The epidemiology of outbreaks remains unaffected. The greater the crisscross of contacts with other humans, the more likely transmission exponentiates into an outbreak. The closed and close-quarters environments of cruise ships and food processing plants are the proofs of concept. And a cruise ship is safer than a campus.

Welcome to the S.S. University. Most of the 45,000 passengers are drawn from every state in the union, rural and urban, each carrying whatever contacts they left when they set out for the ship, as well as every contact along the way to embarkation. The boat is parked, and only a fraction of the passengers actually stay in their small, randomly-assigned, double-occupancy rooms. The S.S. University is not isolated. It is surrounded by an archipelago of neighborhoods and a flotilla of other boats. The passengers who do not live onboard this cruise of young and eager singles live in a community of smaller boats that ring the main ship, typically in 3-6 person groups in apartment cruisers.

Passengers live on the ship, off-boat passengers live in the apartment cruisers, and the entire staff, from the captain to the deck hands to the cruise directors to the custodial staff, all commute in from a hundred nearby islands. The people who live onboard and close by move back and forth, taking crowded ferries that pick up and drop off passengers from meeting site to meeting site. Every member of the staff and crew leave from and return to their families every day, and all the contacts that they have, embarking and disembarking daily.

The S.S. University is not the only destination. Among the archipelago and the flotilla of other boats, there is a constant crisscrossing that takes place, mainly around socializing and commerce. Some of the services of the S.S. University are exclusive to its onboard passengers, but many other services ring the wharf and are open to whomever can get there: bars and gyms and restaurants and coffee shops that are built around cheap prices and high turnover, because many of the passengers need to watch their money, are also attractive to the members of the archipelago.

Outside of the social agenda, the actual paid-for cruise for passengers is built around side-by-side meeting rooms and a tight schedule, with 10-minute changeovers in narrow corridors with access through a finite number of human-sized doors (each with a handle). The air circulation can be non-existent, often in rooms with no windows that, anyone can tell you, linger with the distinctive humidity of anxious humans after the first meeting of the day.

Everything is communal: the ferries that move passengers and staff around, the meeting rooms, the seats in the rooms, the materials used by the staff in the rooms, and every bathroom. Have you seen what the bathrooms are like by the afternoon?

Distancing is the beginning, not the end, of safety in the pandemic. Distancing is a way to think about contact in the present, only. How to maintain distance when you take commuting and the integration of time into account? Occupying spaces that need to be made safe before and after occupancy is another aspect of distancing: distancing in time. It does not matter that you are six feet away in the room when you are sitting in the seat for which there is no practical way of ensuring its safety, including from the passenger from the last session who sneezed onto its emptiness and caused the blood pressure of everyone else in the room to spike. Nearly all rooms have at least two doors, so you might manage “in” and “out” – but it is a pretty magical 10-minute ballet if everyone moving “out” can distance from everyone moving “in” as well as from one another.

Some fraction of the highly experienced staff is either at-risk or interacts with an at-risk member of their own family or might come across someone while taking care of business over the weekend back at their home island. Personally, I am a session leader for one of these activity rooms. And as much as I loathe to admit it, I am at risk. I am 63, male, a type II diabetic, and carry a genetic hypercoagulative disorder. When I enter one of those session rooms, I can invariably smell the departing group and sense its humidity. I see every surface, in front of me, that has been used by my colleague from the previous session. My colleague who is standing there, quite unavoidably, needing to spray their words to the student with a question after class to cover the noise of the changeover and their attempts to stay distanced. I do not want to put that mic on, and I really have no interest in touching the 4-5 buttons I need to touch just to get ready for my session.

A cruise ship is safer than a campus. I need a better metaphor. Navigating a campus in a pandemic is more comparable to every big heist movie you have ever seen. You do not just worry about the size of the bag you need in the moment you squirrel away the diamonds in the vault. You need to get in without being caught. You need to get out. You need to assume every surface and space has an alarm, so you better be prepared. Every single member of the team has a job to do, and you need to have trust in every other team member and in their skills, because your life is in their hands. And in this case, hundreds of different teams are carrying out their own heists in the same space as you, so your trust and confidence needs to exponentiate like a viral contagion. Before a heist, in the movies, you practice again and again in a simulated space, making the inevitable errors you make when you do something new, even when you are an experienced scoundrel. There is no room for rookies on your team.

In the campus pandemic heist, though, everyone is a rookie. The first bell rings on the first day, and you are following imagined instructions about how to proceed, procedures developed by senior management, whose memory of being an on-the-ground team member might not actually be from your campus or have taken place in the last two decades. In the 1981 noir film “Body Heat,” an experienced criminal played by Mickey Rourke is giving advice to a lawyer, played by William Hurt, who is contemplating pulling off a murder. Rourke returns the advice that Hurt once gave to him: “Are you ready to hear something? I want you to see if this sounds familiar: any time you try a decent crime, you got fifty ways you’re gonna fuck up. If you think of twenty-five of them, then you’re a genius… and you ain’t no genius.”

Are you contemplating in-person instruction this fall, in the absence of completely reliable testing, tracking, and a deep understanding about the mechanism of transmission of the coronavirus, particularly among the asymptomatic? If there is even one problem related to re-opening campus in this essay that had not occurred to you (did I mention that the toilets are all communal?), then heed Mickey Rourke’s advice about the hubris of genius. And believe me: I ain’t no genius. There are a countless number of unanticipated problems just waiting to turn your “guarded” and “cautious” optimism into reckless and unsafe actions.


The epidemiologists tell us to watch out for these variables in the equation of infectious exposure: space (farther apart, not closer), time (the lower, the better), people (the fewer, the better), and place (open, not closed).

That, and a heaping helping of common sense from Robert Strauss on how to behave when you are having a fight with a more powerful adversary:

You don’t quit when you’re tired – you quit when the gorilla is tired.

“Somewhere in Germany”

“Somewhere in Germany” (March 24, 1947)
by Vaughn Richard Shoemaker (1902-1991)
13 x 16, ink and wash on board
Coppola Collection

Shoemaker was an American editorial cartoonist. He won the 1938 and 1947 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning and created the character John Q. Public. He spent 22 years at the Chicago Daily, and subsequently worked for the New York Herald Tribune, the Chicago American, and Chicago Today. He retired in 1972.

The Molotov Plan was the system created by the Soviet Union in 1947 in order to provide aid to rebuild the countries in Eastern Europe that were politically and economically aligned to the Soviet Union. It was originally called the “Brother Plan” in the Soviet Union. It can be seen to be the Soviet Union’s version of the Marshall Plan, which for political reasons the Eastern European countries would not be able to join without leaving the Soviet sphere of influence. Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov rejected the Marshall Plan, proposing instead the Molotov Plan.

On March 18, 1947, TASS (the Russian news agency) published the text of a secret agreement made at the Yalta Conference in 1945 on the matter of German reparations, in order to back up Molotov’s demand for them. The question then turned to whether the Yalta text was supplemented or superseded by the Potsdam Agreement.

This is a rather elegant piece of art from Shoemaker.


“Les maris ne sont toujours pas rire.”

“Les maris ne sont toujours pas rire.” (ca. 1843)
Paul Gavarni (1804-1866)
6 x 9 in., ink and watercolor wash on paper
Coppola Collection

A two- volume anthology entitled “Le Diable à Paris” was published sequentially in 1845-46. It was the first literary and artistic anthology published in the 1840s to include a chapter explaining to non-specialists what statistical data could reveal about Parisian social conditions. The chapter was not at all superficial; it contained seventeen pages of tables and explanatory notes that care- fully described what the new statistics showed about the standards of living of both rich and poor in Paris.

“Le Diable à Paris” is important to art historians because it included a series of illustrations by Guillaume Sulpice Chevallier, known as Gavarni, the popular Parisian illustrator who was one of the city’s most colorful personalities. His entire series of illustrations showing types of Parisians, particularly the poorest ones, was popular enough to be later assembled as Les gens de Paris in a separate book. Each illustration was captioned by Gavarni himself, who took pride in writing a touching or witty description for each image.  Gavarni’s illustrations included some of the cruelest scenes of waifs, paupers, beggars, and les miserables that had yet been done.

“Les maris ne sont toujours pas rire.”

The husbands are still not laughing, under the sign that reads Rendezvous Des Amis.

This is signed by Gavarni in his style, buried in some of the shading at the lower right. The book used engravings that were based on drawings, so this is the basis (or at least a draft) for the illustration that appeared. Its notation on the green paper matches the illustration.

Le Diable à Paris (Volume I)
In “Drames Bourgeois”

Written with the published caption “Les maris ne sont toujours pas rire.”

Looking at the engraving, with the concerned woman nearby, it seems perhaps that the husband is not too amused with the rendezvous that has happened.


“Lonesomehurst” (“Puck’s Library,” Cover, August 1894)
by Charles Jay “CJ” Taylor (1855-1929)
14 x 16 inches, ink on board
Coppola Collection

Taylor originally studied law at Columbia University, then moved to art at the Art Students League, the National Academy of Design (with Eastman Johnson) and City College of New York, as well as in London and Paris. Taylor painted hundreds of landscape pictures in oil, which he sold to dealers and at auction. He started contributing illustrations to the New York’s Daily Graphic in 1873, and also to magazines such as Harpers, Puck and Punch.

His book ‘Taylor Girls’ gained him international acclaim. He returned to painting in the later part of his life, and spent 18 years as the head of the Painting and Decoration Department in the College of Fine Arts at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (the Carnegie Alma Mater song is his composition).

Started as a German language publication, the first issue of “Puck” in English appeared in March 1877: 16 pages for 10 cents. Readers liked the cartoon satires, which were rare in American periodicals at that time. The magazine was named for William Shakespeare’s character, Puck, in Midsummer Night’s Dream: “What fools these mortals be!”

Its popularity and circulation soared, reaching nearly 90,000 subscribers in the 1890s. Spin-off publications were created, such as “Puck’s Library” and “Pickings from Puck.” The Hearst conglomerate purchased “Puck” in 1917 and replaced the hard-hitting political commentary with a focus on the fine arts and social fads. Declining subscriptions resulted in Hearst’s decision to discontinue “Puck” in September 1918.

Now, about this “Lonesomehurst” word.

There is a large number of streets in the UK whose names end in -hurst, for example, Ravenhurst,Gathurst, Oakhurst, Amhurst, Bonehurst, Eaglehurst… It’s a Saxon word meaning, roughly, a identifiable hill with a wooded or bushy eminence. A sense of place that is isolated and associated with something.

In the 1890s, “lonesomehurst” was used to refer to the new phenomenon of single-family homes sitting at the outskirts of cities. In other words: the suburbs. In a 1901 book by Joseph Fitzgerald (“Word and Phrase”), he describes an origin of the word (although it’s clearly something that was in use, given the August 1894 cover date on the issue that carries this cartoon, so this counts as apocryphal).

“The unusual violence of the wind and snowstorms of February, 1895, caused great suffering and loss of life among mariners and landfolk on the Atlantic coast, and throughout the country; and the newspaper chroniclers presented, some of them, marvelously realistic pictures of the scenes of devastation. One of these scribes, in telling of a burial at sea, coined, or at least employed a singularly apt and telling phrase: **They dropped the dead babies into the yawn of the sea.” Very happy, too, was the name, apparently coined for that occasion, to express the forlorn situation of outlying new suburbs, when cut off by such a visitation from their mother city and place of occupation, — Lonesomehurst.”

Thanks to the Internet of All Things, you can find out that the first single-family house built in Garden City, NJ (in the mid-1890s, at the corner of Cathedral and, which is still there) was called Lonesomehurst.

This all gives the 1894 cover its meaning, as this guy is doing the chores of his suburban home ownership, with the widely separated neighbors showing in the distance. Eighty years later, people would still be singing about life in the suburbs:

The local rock group down the street
Is trying hard to learn their song
They serenade the weekend squire
Who just came out to mow his lawn

Another pleasant valley Sunday
Charcoal burning everywhere
Another pleasant valley Sunday
Here is Status Symbol Land

Songwriters: Carol King/Gerry Goffin
Singers: The Monkees

“The New York City Election”

“The New York City Election” (undated, ca. 1900)
by John Tinney McCutcheon (1870-1949)
14 x 15 in., ink on drawing board
Coppola Collection

On the Purdue campus, where he was a student, McCutcheon (class of 1889) is memorialized in a coeducational dormitory, John T. McCutcheon Hall. The lobby displays an original of one of his drawings, a nearly life-size drawing of a young man.

After college, McCutcheon moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he worked at the Chicago Morning News (later: Chicago Record) and then at the Chicago Tribune from 1903 until his retirement in 1946. McCutcheon received the Pulitzer Prize for Cartoons in 1932.

I suspect this is an early piece from McCutcheon. First let’s look at the symbolism.

The term “Knickerbockers” traces its origin to the Dutch settlers who came to the New World – and especially to what is now New York – in the 1600s. Specifically, it refers to the style of pants the settlers wore…pants that rolled up just below the knee, which became known as “Knickerbockers”, or “knickers”. In 1809, legendary author Washington Irving solidified the knickerbocker name in New York lore when he wrote the satiric “A History of New York” from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty under the pseudonym Diedrich Knickerbocker. Later known as Knickerbocker’s History of New York, Irving’s book introduced the word “knickerbocker” to signify a New Yorker who could trace his or her ancestry to the original Dutch settlers.

With the publication of Irving’s book, the Dutch settler “Knickerbocker” character became synonymous with New York City. The city’s most popular symbol of the late 19th and early 20th centuries was “Father Knickerbocker”, complete with cotton wig, three-cornered hat, buckled shoes, and, of course, knickered pants.

Tammany Hall was the name given to the Democratic political machine that dominated New York City politics from the mayoral victory of Fernando Wood in 1854 through the election of Fiorello LaGuardia in 1934. Tammany was usually depicted as a Tiger, based upon Thomas Nast’s 1871 caricature of Tammany Hall as a tiger killing democracy in the coliseum of New York politics, and represented the reign of “Old Bosses” in the machinery, particularly referring to Boss Tweed (1856-1873).

From 1902 until his death in 1924, Charles Francis Murphy was Tammany’s boss. Murphy wanted to clean up Tammany’s image, and he sponsored progressive era reforms benefiting the working class. Murphy always advised that politicians should have nothing to do with gambling or prostitution, and should steer clear of involvement with the police department or the school system.

With Murphy cleaning up the Tammany image, and McCutcheon’s larger ink/brush works being more associated with his early career, I tag this as early in McCutcheon’s career.

“We Will Never Forget…”

“We Will Never Forget…” (December 7, 1982)
by Charles Phillip Bissell (1926 -)
12 x 17.5, ink and wash on board
Coppola Collection

In 1960, Boston Globe cartoonist Phil Bissell, working for $25 a day, was handed an assignment that would change his life—and the lives of fans of the brand-new AFL football team coming to Boston. “Sports editor Jerry Nason came to me and he said, ‘They’ve decided to call the team the Boston Patriots. You better have a cartoon ready for tomorrow’s edition.’” Bissel’s “Pat Patriot” cartoon was the Patriot’s logo from 1961-1992.

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese navy launched a surprise military attack against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor located on the island of O’ahu. The attack on Pearl Harbor was intended to neutralize the United States Pacific Fleet as the Japanese expanded throughout the Pacific region. Despite numerous historical precedents for unannounced military action, the lack of any formal warning by Japan led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to proclaim December 7, 1941, “a date which will live in infamy.” The attack on Pearl Harbor, not only brought America into World War II, but raised suspicions of the large Japanese communities on West Coast of the United States and in Hawai’i.

“Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall…”

“Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall…” (April 5, 1971)
by Don Hesse (1918-1985)
9 x 12 in., grease pencil on paper
Coppola Collection

Don Hesse worked for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat from 1946 to 1984 and was appointed primary editorial cartoonist in 1951. Through syndication his political cartoons enjoyed a wide circulation, capturing the eye of long-term admirers like President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan. Currently, many of Hesse’s cartoons are on permanent display in the Library of Congress

On the morning of March 16, 1968, around 100 soldiers from Charlie Company, following a short artillery and helicopter gunship barrage, landed in helicopters at Sơn Mỹ, a patchwork of settlements, rice paddies, irrigation ditches, dikes, and dirt roads, connecting an assortment of hamlets and sub-hamlets. The largest among them were the hamlets Mỹ Lai, Cổ Lũy, Mỹ Khê, and Tu Cung.

Although the GIs were not fired upon after landing, they still suspected there were VC guerrillas hiding underground or in the huts. Confirming their suspicions, the gunships engaged several armed enemies in a vicinity of Mỹ Lai; later, one weapon was retrieved from the site.

According to the operational plan, 1st Platoon led by Second Lieutenant (2LT) William Calley and 2nd Platoon led by 2LT Stephen Brooks entered the hamlet of Tu Cung in line formation at 08:00, while the 3rd Platoon commanded by 2LT Jeffrey U. Lacross and Captain Medina’s command post remained outside. On approach, both platoons fired at people they saw in the rice fields and in the brush.

The villagers, who were getting ready for a market day, at first did not panic or run away, as they were herded into the hamlet’s commons. Harry Stanley, a machine gunner from Charlie Company, said during the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division inquiry that the killings started without warning. He first observed a member of 1st Platoon strike a Vietnamese man with a bayonet. Then, the same trooper pushed another villager into a well and threw a grenade in the well. Next, he saw fifteen or twenty people, mainly women and children, kneeling around a temple with burning incense. They were praying and crying. They were all killed by shots to the head.

Most of the killings occurred in the southern part of Tu Cung, a sub-hamlet of Xom Lang, which was a home to 700 residents. Xom Lang was erroneously marked on the U.S. military operational maps of Quảng Ngãi Province as Mỹ Lai.

In 1971, during the four-month-long trial, Calley consistently claimed that he was following orders from his commanding officer, Captain Medina. Despite that, he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison on March 29, 1971, after being found guilty of premeditated murder of not fewer than twenty people. Two days later, President Richard Nixon made the controversial decision to have Calley released from armed custody at Fort Benning, Georgia, and put under house arrest pending appeal of his sentence. In August 1971, his life sentence was reduced, and in September 1974, he was paroled.

“WW II Vets” (May 12, 1985)

“WW II Vets” (May 12, 1985)
by Charles Phillip Bissell (1926 -)
11 x 17.5, ink and wash on board
Coppola Collection

In 1960, Boston Globe cartoonist Phil Bissell, working for $25 a day, was handed an assignment that would change his life—and the lives of fans of the brand-new AFL football team coming to Boston. “Sports editor Jerry Nason came to me and he said, ‘They’ve decided to call the team the Boston Patriots. You better have a cartoon ready for tomorrow’s edition.’” Bissel’s “Pat Patriot” cartoon was the Patriot’s logo from 1961-1992.

On May 8, 1945, VE Day, about a week after Hitler’s suicide and the fall of Berlin, the Allies of World War II accepted Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces.

It is hard to tell what else was in the word balloon, but the intention is clear: can it really be 40 years ago…?

“Pogo” (March 5, 1955)

“Pogo” (March 5, 1955)
by Walter Crawford “Walt” Kelly, Jr (1913-1973)
6 x 17.5 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

He began his animation career in 1936 at Walt Disney Studios, contributing to Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Dumbo. In 1941, at the age of 28, Kelly transferred to work at Dell Comics, where he created Pogo, which eventually became his platform for political and philosophical commentary.

As a chemist, the last panel on this one is worth twice the price of admission. The classic Organic Chemistry textbook by Morrison and Boyd used a Donald Duck panel where Donald is talking chemical gibberish to his nephews. I want to incorporate this panel into a book I am doing, particularly because the chemistry is sensible.