First, the Great Whiteout of Fall 2011 continues:
St. Thomas had the good sense to devote a feature story to alumnus John Kascht, a remarkable caricaturist who became an editorial cartoonist when he was 14 and wasted no time getting into trouble as a junior high school kid by drawing and passing around a “nun of the month” pinup calendar. Kascht has become so good at what he does, he has 22 pieces in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington. Writer Doug Hennes did a nice job with the story, but he had a thankless task, providing the text to wrap around six examples of Kascht’s wonderful art.
Dusk is approaching, and from the farmhouse you can see lights on in the second floor of an old chicken coop and horse stable. John Kascht hunches over a drawing table and stares at a blank sheet of paper, surrounded by photos of his subject matter. He deftly swipes a pencil across the paper and looks up to cock his head sideways and stroke his goatee before taking another swipe. He repeats the motion over and over, hardly touching the paper but, swipe by swipe, brings life to the face.
Brian C. Brown edits the magazine.
NYU Alumni Magazine (Jason Hollander, editor) weighs in with an outstanding cover story, Jill Hamburg Coplan’s “When a Woman Loves a Woman.” A case now in the judicial system, Windsor v. United States, may prove to be the landmark case for the civil rights of gay Americans. The “Windsor” is Edith Windsor, an NYU graduate who met her partner, Thea Clara Spyer, in 1963, married her in Toronto in 2007, and after she died in 2009 filed suit the next year to challenge the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that forbids exemption from estate taxes for gay marriages. When Windsor had to pay, out of her savings, $363,053 in estate taxes that a heterosexual would not have had to pay, she sued. Coplan does a great job of explicating the complex issues at stake, as well as telling Windsor’s story:
“We never dreamed it,” Edie reflects. “We didn’t expect marriage, even 10 years ago, and I never expected I’d be looking at a piece of paper that said ‘Windsor versus United States of America.’ Fighting is very hard—we spend our lives coming out, in different circumstances. We’re never all out, somehow. It takes a lot of guts to stand up and let people know—people you’ve lied to much of your life—that not only are you a lesbian, but you’re a lesbian fighting the United States of America.”
This last item is gratuitous, but I just have to say I love the name of the magazine from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina: Owl & Spade. Just set it right there on the coffee table next to Garden & Gun. I had to ask editor John Bowers how the magazine got its name, and he responded: “The first issue of Owl & Spade was published in October 1924 when Warren Wilson College was the Asheville Farm School. The masthead read, ‘The Owl and Spade: Dedicated to the Dignity of Manual Labor When Coupled with Brains.'” I love that.