Marion Davies

Saw this picture of Marion Davies today, and it reminded me that after a visit to Hearst Castle in San Simeon in October of 2001, I wrote this about her: “Marion Davies was a Ziegfeld Girl who Hearst loved and sought, successfully, to make into a film star. A gifted comic actress, she has never received her just due, but is instead remembered as the fictionalized Suzanne Alexander in Citizen Kane. She was the mistress of San Simeon. A good hearted person with a slight stutter, I could hear her saying, “Are you all right? Can I get you anything?” as I walked through the halls. I confess that I have always wanted to stand in Marion Davies’ bedroom, and that ambition has been fulfilled. Her room was small, but I guess there are trade-offs for living in a castle.”

August Roeseler, Beer & Dachshunds

A Hofbräuhaus menu collected in April of 1969, with art by August Roeseler (1866-1934). He was born in Hamburg in 1866, but spent most of his life in Munich, working as a fine artist, commercial artist, illustrator for books, magazines and postcards, and as a cartoonist.

In addition to his work for the Hofbräuhaus, he did a booklet of Oktoberfest illustrations, and contributed to O Diese Dackel! (O These Dachshunds!) a book of images and verse published in1912. His artwork also appeared on beer steins made by Villeroy & Boch and Marzi & Remy.

The juxtaposition of dachshunds and sausage (wurst) is a recurring motif in Roeseler’s work, and can be seen both on the menu above and in the cartoon below from Fliegende Blätter, Munich, August 31, 1900, in which dogs gaze longingly at a giant floating wurst, which is actually Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin’s airship over the Bodensee (Lake Constance) at Friedrichshafen.

The Hofbräuhaus is still serving. And for those of you who would like to see the menu from 1969, here you go:

My thanks to Laurie Winship for collecting and curating this marvelous menu.

March Madness

March Madness began not with a basketball, but rather with the English hare whose breeding season commences in March and prompts the bunnies to engage in odd behavior, with males jumping vertically and females boxing with their forelegs to rebuff unwanted suitors. To be “as mad as a March hare” is an Old English phrase derived from the observed antics. The phrase was already in use at the birth of the printed word. It appeared in the writings of John Skelton as early as 1528, in John Heywood’s collection of proverbs published in 1546, and later in writings of Sir Thomas More, who referred to beggars who were “as mad not as a March hare, but as a madde dogge.” The March Hare took center stage in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) as a guest at the Mad Hatter’s tea party.

Sir John Tenniel’s illustration (above) showed the hare with straw on his head, a common way to depict madness in Victorian times. At one point in the book, Alice said, “The March Hare will be much the most interesting, and perhaps as this is May it won’t be raving mad — at least not so mad as it was in March.”

Fast forward to 1908 in Illinois for the inauguration of a tournament for high school basketball teams. Sponsored by the Illinois High School Association (IHSA), it boomed, and grew statewide with more than 900 schools competing. In 1939, Henry Porter of the IHSA wrote an essay about the tournament entitled “March Madness.” In 1977, Jim Enright wrote the official history, March Madness: The Story of High School Basketball in Illinois.

In 1982, Brent Musberger, who had been a sportswriter in Illinois, used the phrase during CBS TV coverage of the NCAA basketball tournament. I have not seen the video; he may or may not have had straw in his hair. Soon, everyone wanted to use, and own, the phrase. After much bickering, the IHSA and NCAA pooled their trademark claims to “March Madness” and formed a company named the March Madness Athletic Association. The IHSA and NCAA assigned all rights to the new company, which in turn granted each party a perpetual license for use of the term in connection with their respective basketball tournaments.

But it all started with the hare, and don’t you forget it.

The March Hare by Charles James Folkard (1878–1963) …

… and by Arthur Rackham (1867-1939)