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Stop apologizing for breaking your mother-in-law’s heirloom sugar bowl. If you act now, you can have it replaced by Christmas. Replacements, Ltd. is a Greensboro, North Carolina, firm that just happens to be the world’s largest supplier of active, discontinued, and obsolete china, crystal, and flatware patterns. Its warehouse is stocked with more than a million pieces and some 25,000 patterns to choose from. Call (919) 668-2064.

EARTHLY TREASURES

PROFILE Charles Kennedy’s jewelry looks as if It’s been plucked out of an ancient tomb and dusted off for some modern-day accessorizing. His ornate, one-of-a-kind objects are finely crafted pieces of art, opulent yet wearable, precious jewelry with a twist. Kennedy’s work is ripe with mythological symbolism and imagery, expressing his fascination with Mayan and Egyptian beliefs and his decidedly spiritual point of view. Twenty years ago, Kennedy apprenticed at the knee of an old jeweler in Midland, where he absorbed the secrets of his trade. Today those secrets have paid off-his highly individualistic style and flawless technique have quietly attracted admirers from Dallas to Los Angeles. No wonder. Kennedy’s jewelry is both New Age and ageless. Icons with a past that wear well in the present. He can’t go wrong.

-Anne Warren

The Theory of Bubbleology

TRENDS The joy of creating a thing of beauty can be experienced even by those ungifted in the arts. With a penny’s worth of soap and a simple plastic wand, even an amateur can produce an iridescent sheath of shimmering colors that ascends like an ephemeral aria across the atmospheric stage. Too often dismissed as merely a toy, soap bubbles are a bridge between the most advanced theories of astrophysics and the simplest rules of nature, between the secret inner workings of the universe and the sheer innocence of childhood.

The soapy solution to city stress, blowing bubbles quickly converts tension headaches into surface tension. Focusing your worries into a cleansing container helps focus your mind onto more important things: how to get six equal-sized bubbles to form a cube between them, how to string bubbles together into a wiggly caterpillar chain, amuse the kids with an imaginary string of circus ponies or a tumbling torrent of Tetrises, or get the wary cat to chase just one more bubble mouse.

You don’t need fancy toystore paraphernalia, although there are a few books on the market (The Unbelievable Bubble Book and Bubble Magic are available at B. Dalton) that can inspire you with fanciful ideas. However, all you really need to indulge your love of beauty are liquid soap, bare hands, and breath.

-John Trimble & Phyllis Williams

PETAL PUSHERS

More buds for your happy hour. Poppies Floral Designs offers blooms for half price from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays during its Flower Hour. 6125 Luther Lane. 368-7223.

A Tree-Carving Crooner

real people Some people talk to their house plants. Jim Brisson, the Singing Tree Man, sings and prunes trees. The “poet lariat”-a friend’s epithet-improves on hature’s sculpture for a living and balladizes in barrooms for fun.

In the past ten years, the Singing Tree Man and his crew have tended the trees of oil tycoons, big-game hunters, millionaires, and other assorted homeowners. He has carved trees full of bees and trees embedded in chain link fencing and spliced trees in two. It’s a born metier for a tree-starved kid from El Paso. “We used to go miles just to see a tree that hadn’t been planted. A cottonwood was a big deal.”

In a trade rife with “tree whackers” who administer flattops and saw-happy types who thin trees to the bone, Brisson is one of the few who believes in simplicity, pruning for strong growth and a natural line: “the way nature intended it to be.” A tree trimmer since college, he trained with veteran Dallas tree man James Carder at Lambert’s. Occasionally, he’ll call in an arborist, who’s “one of the wise old men in town,” for disease consultations.

The singer-song-writer is a published poet whose local gigs are more in the vein of “strum the guitar and sing, tell tall tales, and, you know, joke around.” Club Dada and The Hop patrons are enlivened by such ditties as “Let’s Get Drunk and Sloppy,” “I’m Ugly,” and “Uncle Frank’s Feet Stank.”

“Sometimes you’ll hear him up in a tree mumbling and stringing a few words together,” says sometime helper, artist Alex Troup. “It’s my little creative outlet,” Brisson says, smiling. “Nobody can hear you over the chain saw.” -Julie Ryan

VIDEOS

POWER (RE) PLAYS

While crises loom, smiling millionaires flummox the public with empty phrases and slick ads. We stare, dumbfounded, at our sets. But wait- this is a movie!

Gore Vidal’s The Bast Man (1964) locks bookish liberal Henry Fonda in a struggle for the nomination with Cliff Robertson, a Nixon-cum-RFK opportunist. Quaint touch: the principled Fonda actually refuses to use damning dirt from Robertson’s past.

The Candidate (1972) stars Robert Bedford as a dark-horse populist darter mined to run an honest if quixotic campaign. Peter Boyle is maddeningly opaque as the campaign manager, and director Michael Ritchie’s great mini-cam style cartchea the snowballing momentum and hallway chaos of the race. Bedford’s last words (“What do we do now?”) apeak volumes about modern politics. A daring and Intelligent film.

Richard Gere, as an amoral consultant in Power (1986), packages pols like so much candy. The twist comes whan he decides to use his hype-powered arsenal on behalf of a candidate with some real substance. Definitely a skimmer.

It’s a hard tape to find, but the three segments of the HBO series Tanner ’88, filmed by Robert Alt-man during the 1988 primaries, are worth the quest. Life Imitates artifice as Gary Hart, Bob Dole, and other real pols cross paths with star Michael Murphy on the campaign trail.

-Chris Tucker

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