Art by Laura Greengold (L) and Julian Raine (R)
Welcome, readers, to the July 2012 issue of Synchronized Chaos! Our poems, articles, and reviews form a particularly unique pattern this month: they portray a wide range of different stages in the growth and development of human life, from childhood to young adulthood to old age. Let’s take a look at the human lifespan as depicted by our contributors, as well as a few related subjects…
We begin our examination of the stages of life with a set of paintings and drawings by Laura Greengold. A number of her beautifully-composed works feature her own baby son, and her art is an excellent depiction of the wonders of very young childhood.
The later stages of childhood take on very different qualities, and they are also represented in this issue. One of the more eccentric modern depictions of the trials and tribulations of modern adolescence is William Finn’s 2004 musical comedy The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, recently performed by Castro Valley’s Chanticleers Little Theatre. Bruce Roberts’ review illuminates the hilarity of the production—as well as the “childhood memories of pressure, of defeat, of humiliation” which it is sure to bring back to its viewers.
With adulthood comes the joy and heartbreak of romantic affairs, and Sam Burks’ poem “Memories (A Farewell)” is a poignant depiction of the latter state. Taking place after the dissolution of a relationship, it skillfully depicts both the inescapable memories of happier times and the necessity of letting go and looking forward. Read this, as well as three other equally-insightful poems by Sam, here.
Romances can certainly end happily as well. Perhaps the iconic novel of young love and courtship is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, which has been adapted numerous times to stage and screen. As Jessica Sims reports, the San Leandro Players’ recent production is a top-notch version of Austen’s tale.
This month’s final performance review examines a slightly less successful union than that of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. The French legend of Bluebeard, the notorious nobleman and serial wife-killer, dates back to the seventeenth-century work of Charles Perrault, but one of its most memorable adaptations is the Béla Bartók opera Duke Bluebeard’s Castle. Christopher Bernard reviews the San Francisco Symphony’s production here.
After romance and marriage, we can hardly fail to include an examination of parenthood, and J’Rie Elliott’s poem “To Be a Parent” takes a look at this very topic. It’s an inspiring and thought-provoking look at the responsibilities which parents must take on to ensure that their children can lead happy lives—as well as the sacrifices which must inevitably result from such an undertaking.
Another of this issue’s most memorable poetic pieces directly compares childhood with adulthood. In “Let’s Play Pretend,” Linda Allen looks back wistfully on the innocence of youth, juxtaposing it with the awareness of the world’s problems which inevitably arises from maturity. Sometimes, she points out, the hardships of modern life make one yearn for childhood’s joyous dreams of happiness and safety.
A further set of excellent poems in this issue comes from Julian Raine, whose works are relevant in several ways to the theme of human development. They include a vein of mature sexuality, as well as recurring depictions of youth in contrast with old age. Human aging and memory are well-employed elements of these works: in one passage, her narrator compares the present day with her reminiscences of her youth, musing on “the moments/in between [which] sort of bind together/the child to the old woman.” The influence of the past also comes through in another way, with references to the works of Whitman, Tennyson, and other poetic giants of previous generations. Julian also contributes a number of superb paintings, whose subjects range from gloomily-lit human faces to abstract figures to seemingly commonplace objects. Each one of them is quite unforgettable.
Another of our articles concerns itself not with the growth and change of one person, but with that of humanity as a whole. Michaela Elias profiles San Francisco’s legendary Modern Times Bookstore, a local symbol of progressive thought and a longtime center of equality, pro-labor, and anti-war movements. Recent rent troubles have caused Modern Times to move away from its long-established location, but it has found a new home in a shared space with the art gallery Galeria Paloma, and it will try to carry on its progressive work for the foreseeable future.
Similarly, Bruce Roberts’ second article of the month deals with yet another sort of growth: the achievement of new frontiers in scientific knowledge and patient care. He profiles Dr. J. William Langston’s Parkinson’s Institute, widely renowned for its innovations in both treatment and research.
And, as always, Leena Prasad’s monthly column Whose Brain Is It? demonstrates our growing knowledge of the intricacies of the human mind! This month, she examines the chemical factors which lead to feelings of joy.
We hope you enjoy this month’s issue of Synchronized Chaos Magazine! As always, feel free to leave comments for the contributors and if you’re interested in submitting to the magazine, send your work to firstname.lastname@example.org.