Stan Pawlowski's new sculpture depicts Snoopy at rest under a maple tree. Above the dog, ensconced in the tree, is Snoopy's bird sidekick, Woodstock. The piece is titled "Dreaming."
These articles are arranged from the most recent down, so you'll always find the newest news about Charlie Brown and his friends toward the top; older articles will be located further down, or on previous pages.
George Winston's solo-piano melodies breathe life into old songs
July 10, 2010
By Scott Iwasaki
Pianist George Winston clearly continues to admire the late jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi. His new album is titled "Love Will Come: The Music of Vince Guaraldi Vol. 2."
It's the follow-up to 1996's "Linus & Lucy: the Music of Vince Guaraldi Vol. 1."
Winston, who arranged solo-piano versions of the songs and medleys, said he "just loves (Guaraldi's) songs."
"I've tried all his pieces," Winston said during a telephone interview from his studio in San Francisco. "I don't play them all, but I've tried them all."
He's tried to play every Guaraldi song from "The Peanuts" scores, Guaraldi family tapes and the live and studio recordings.
"There are three artists that I have tried to play all their music," Winston said. "Vince Guaraldi, the Doors and Professor Longhair from New Orleans."
While Winston has tried to arrange solo-piano versions of these artists' catalogs, it doesn't mean they all will be recorded.
"My personal voice is so different," he said. "It doesn't always work. I mean, theoretically it works, but it sometimes (the songs) don't live and breathe."
Winston said the most challenging Guaraldi song he's recorded is "Little Birdie," which appears on the new album.
The original song features Guaraldi on vocal and electric piano, highlighted by horns, bass and drums. The horns feature an improvised trumpet segment that answered the vocal part.
"When I first heard it, I was astounded," he said. "It had great Vince vocals, and he didn't sing much. I first heard it in 1973 and started working on it, but really focused on it in 1995."
Another difficult work is "Air Music," which is also on the new album.
"The original was minimal piano playing a high part and horns playing the main melody," Winston said. "And like 'Little Birdie,' the horns answered the main melody and the bass line.
"I wound up trying to get the same bass feeling with my left hand playing in the style of (New Orleans piano pioneers) James Booker and Henry Butler."
Winston said he chooses songs for his albums the same way he does for his live shows, which he calls "Winter" and "Summer."
"I'm lucky it's perfectly constructed," Winston said of his set list. "There are only two minor hits that I have to play -- 'Variations of Kanon by Pachelbel' and 'Thanksgiving.' I play 'Pachelbel' in the summer and 'Thanksgiving' in the winter."
And he changes the rest of his program, too.
"The Doors had one they had to do, 'Light My Fire.' And I would hate to be in a group where I have 10 hits that I had to do," Winston said.
"I'm lucky. I don't want four, and I don't want one, I have two. And that's perfect. Everything else (in the set) is what I am focused on at the moment.
"There's always some Guaraldi, Doors and Professor Longhair," he said. "And there is always melodic folk piano from 'Autumn,' 'December,' 'Summer' and 'Winter Into Spring' albums."
Winston said his songs are like cats.
"They're all different," he said. "I can tell a song that I want it on the record and the song will tell me, 'I'm not ready yet. I'm not getting up.'
"It's like when I want them to pose for a picture," Winston deadpanned. "They look at the camera and say, 'I'm not gong to do it.' And I say, 'But you did it every other time.'
"And they say, 'Yes, but there's that camera and I'm not going to do it now.' "
Blimp Has Best View Of TPC River Highlands
June 26, 2010
The Hartford Courant [Connecticut]
THE SKIES OF HARTFORD AND MIDDLESEX COUNTIES -- Pilot Jeff Capek reaches to his right and begins to turn the wheel at his hip that controls the angle and elevation of Snoopy One, the MetLife blimp that floats tranquilly over so many major sporting events.
The blimp -- airship, actually -- is about to nosedive to a 20-degree angle, which seems rather insignificant.
"There's a slight delay," Capek says, still spinning the wheel about 1,200 feet above the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell.
And then Snoopy One, this massive nylon chamber made weightless with 69,000 cubic feet of helium, quickly tips forward, darting, it seems, toward the ground.
Indeed. Quad muscles are key here, unless you want to slide forward in your seat with your face pressed to the windshield like the cellphones that rest on the dash. Snoopy One, 132 feet long and 45 feet high, is more agile than you might think. The view from the gondola -- not even the size of a small car -- is breathtaking on a clear day such as Friday, and the ride can be, believe it or not, a little like a roller coaster.
Snoopy One, based on the East Coast, and sister ship Snoopy Two, based on the West, cover the continental U.S. and hover over PGA Tour events, NFL games, Triple Crown races and more. Snoopy, the "Peanuts" character and the MetLife logo, adorns the side, and 350 pounds of camera equipment are mounted to the bottom for live telecasts. At Capek's control, the ship bobs, weaves, dips, climbs and spins in an effort to capture a tournament's most captivating moments from high above.
Friday morning, Snoopy One was tied to a mast in the middle of a field at Hartford's Brainard Airport. A crew of 13, including Capek and crew chief Cory Yglesias, work to get it off the ground, adding and subtracting 25-pound sandbags to make sure the weight and balance are correct, pulling on ropes to properly position it for takeoff.
Capek soon says into the headset microphone, "Brainard tower, good morning, our ship is Snoopy One." The ship is quickly skyward, two propellers making for easy acceleration. It sounds like a lawnmower. After dipping a couple hundred feet to avoid an oncoming helicopter, Snoopy One is traveling about 40 mph, heading south along the Connecticut River like a bulky truck would trudge along the right lane of I-91.
There is a clear view of the Hartford and New Haven skylines, Rentschler Field in East Hartford, the UConn Health Center in Farmington. And then the TPC, its 18 holes, the galleries, the jam-packed parking lots, the signature Travelers umbrella in the middle of the lake near the finishing holes. Snoopy One runs on gasoline, and Friday's 50-minute trip burned only about four gallons.
For the crew, moving from event to event is the big project. For instance, Snoopy One arrived this week after a four-day flight from Memphis. Capek, maybe joined by a colleague or two, will fly the blimp; the rest make their way via trucks. They must be ready to change course if weather forces the blimp, which becomes unsafe in winds over 20 mph, to do the same.
This is a lifestyle as much as a job. Like most of the crew, Capek (Jacksonville) and Yglesias (Lakeland) are based in Florida, where the blimp spends winters. Another no-no for blimps: snow. Too much accumulates and could collapse the ship. Forget Super Bowl XLVIII, to be held at Giants Stadium in 2014.
"No chance, no way, that there's a blimp there for that," Yglesias said.
Capek, 37, has been piloting Snoopy One for 10 years. A Pittsburgh native, he attended aeronautical school in Daytona Beach, Fla. A few years later, a friend hooked him up with someone on a blimp crew. He's rarely home during the spring and summer, plodding around the country, positioning the blimp in just the right spot as, say, Tiger Woods lines up for a critical putt.
Amid the silence of golfing galleries, the drone of the blimp propellers can be heard on the course and on television, which is why Capek often slows to about half speed. During the epic playoff round of the 2008 U.S. Open, Woods backed away from a putt as the blimp entered his field of vision.
Then again, Capek said, golfers have been known to study the ship in an effort to gauge wind.
"They throw grass, look at trees, and if that doesn't help, they look at the blimp," Capek said.
Capek has seen the nation from above a dozen times over. Snoopy One is part of a group of about 15 ships worldwide owned by The Lightship Group, based in Orlando and Telford, England. The group leases its airships to companies looking to advertise, such as MetLife.
With fewer than about 25 in the world, blimps inspire a good deal of curiosity. When Capek lands, usually at small airfields like Brainard, cars will often stop.
Beyond anything, though, ships like Snoopy One have basic functions -- to advertise and televise.
"Really," Capek said, "I'm a camera platform."
At events, Capek is joined by a camera operator, with whom he must be in constant communication in order to be at the right angle, or over the right hole, or over the right group of players. The airport tower chatter is virtually nonstop through the headset. Producers in the television truck are constantly in his ear, too.
"It never stops," he said. "So you're listening to three people. Then there will be a rare minute of silence and, inevitably, they all start talking again at once. I have selective listening skills. I don't hear anything until key words like 'blimp,' or 'Snoopy.' "
Capek goes weeks without seeing his longtime girlfriend. Yglesias, like many crew members, is single.
"Not a job for a married person," said Yglesias, who grew up in New York and New Jersey. "This crew basically stays together and doesn't split up. ... It's like a traveling circus, 52 weeks a year on the road. It gets in your blood. I didn't think I'd be here [after 12 years], but here I am."
Behind the Angels' scenes: throwing out the first pitch
June 28, 2010
By Dan Woike
The Orange County Register [Southern California]
ANAHEIM -- It's a dream children have all over the world: to stand on the mound, wind up and pitch in a big league stadium. And even though that was never Jill Schulz's dream, Saturday night, she got a chance to try it.
"Baseball is not really my sport, but it was a lot of fun," she said. "It was an honor to be asked to do it."
Schulz is the daughter of Peanuts' creator Charles Schulz, and this year, Knott's Berry Farm is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the comic strip with a number of Peantus-themed attractions, including an ice show Schulz is producing.
But Saturday night, it wasn't about blades; it was about one pitch. And, it was about not being embarrassed.
"My brother told me he couldn't believe I agreed to do it. He said, 'You're going to end up on YouTube as one of the 10 worst pitches,'" she said. "So three nights ago, I looked those up and set the bar for myself kind of low."
"I feel like I didn't qualify for any YouTube video, which is good."
Schulz did skip the ball to home, but "at least it was straight."
Ballparks celebrate Peanuts' Diamond Anniversary
June 21, 2010
Ask a ballplayer to play for peanuts and you're going to get some nasty reactions.
But ask them to play for Peanuts and that evokes a lot of pleasant memories.
This year celebrates the 60th anniversary of the comic strip created by the late Charles Schulz. So since it is the diamond anniversary and Charlie Brown is the most losing pitcher in history it seems logical that Major League parks would want to celebrate the occasion.
The Giants passed out Lucy bobble-heads and on Sunday it was Charlie Brown bobble-heads in Detroit.
Left on the schedule: A June 26th date in Anaheim and an Aug. 15 date with the Minnesota Twins.
Craig Schulz, son of the creator, calls his father "a sports nut" with baseball his favorite sport.
"When we grew up baseball was huge around our house. We'd pull my dad off his drawing board and he would play games on a regular basis with my friends," he said. "When spring came out my dad actually coached our Little League team for a couple years. He just always loved the game, he loved the people in the game. He was friends with Willie Mays, he always loved the Giants."
Craig Schulz talked to Game On! about his father's passion for baseball.
QUESTION: Using Charlie Brown as his hero, was there a better writer about losing than your dad?
(laughs) It actually goes back to his childhood. He told me when he grew up in St. Paul, they found a vacant lot, he never got to really play on a good field, and he says he knows what it was like to lose a game 100-0. He'd get his buddies together, they would go from one neighborhood to another, similar to what Charlie Brown does, and these kids would round up their own little teams and they would get killed, they would get slaughtered. I think every kid knows, every adult knows that we are going to lose more than we are going to win in almost everything. We might as well get used to it, suck it up and Charlie Brown shows us what it is like to lose and keeping coming back day after day and struggle on and hope for that rare victory.
QUESTION: Didn't he want to slay those demons in print?
I think that was the success of the strip, he hit it right on the nose. It is easy to focus on the winning part. But this is what we all suffer with. That resonates with readers and what we all relate to.
QUESTION: Would you agree that the timelessness of the strip is one of its strongest attributes?
We take a lot of pride in that and put a lot of work in that. People have that feel of coming back to the comfort of Peanuts. The word we get from people is that "I was raised on Peanuts and I want to raise my kids on Peanuts." It feels like a safe zone to go to. The message is always really straight forward.
QUESTION: It was a strip that appealed on different levels, was it not?
I was noticing (the other day) watching the Giants play that they had to make two or three pitching changes. The pitcher walked off the field and in comes the shortstop, the third baseman, the second baseman, they are all standing on the mound and I immediately flashed back to the strips when my dad has all these players coming to the mound to talk to (Charlie Brown) and none of them are talking about baseball. They are talking about theology, and Schroeder with his piano and Lucy with her problems. You start to think 'what are they really talking about there." These little kids standing out there talking about the world's issues while Charlie Brown just wants to talk about baseball. I think that is the most amazing thing about the strip is that it reaches so many different levels from an adult reading it, from a child reading it and in between and what every took from it was the magic of the comic strip.
QUESTION: How did the strip change over the years?
(My father) was a great observer of life and in his own life every character is really a piece of him. As his life changed from raising kids in the 60s to remarrying in the 70s you can see the strip softens in the 70s. The characters are no longer as harsh to each other. Different characters are introduced.
QUESTION: What do you hope readers get out of the strips and books?
(My father) had the ability to speak to more people each day than anyone in history I think. He had a platform that he could use and he never did abuse that. I think that is his legacy
Linus Receives a Heart Transplant
June 9, 2010
By Ben Bradbury
The Sleepy Eye Herald-Dispatch [Sleepy Eye, Minnesota]
On Sunday, artist Chris Beech was in town to reattach Linus' missing heart and a new nose for Snoopy over a year after their mysterious disappearance.
The saga of Linus' missing heart is hopefully coming to a close over a year after it had originally gone missing. On Sunday, both the missing heart and a new nose for Snoopy were reattached to the statue.
The work on Sunday was completed by Chris Beech, son-in-law to Sleepy Eye residents Rex and Judy Beech.
Chris, an artist who currently lives in Blooming Prairie, built the nose himself and reattached both pieces with an epoxy. This new adhesive is hoped to be strong enough to prevent any future vandalism.
Although Chris left after reattaching the two pieces, his work on Linus will continue in the coming weeks. He plans to do some sanding, touch up work and repaint the entire statue.
Residents first noticed the heart was missing last May, and Mayor Jim Broich offered a $100 reward for information as to its whereabouts.
In October, two young men -- Edgar Sanchez and Nate Eckstein -- claimed to have found the missing heart along the Sleepy Eye Lake bike trail. This was much to the surprise and delight of Broich.
"I'm glad to have (Linus' heart) back," he told the Herald-Dispatch in October. "This was unexpected."
Man dressed as Snoopy in 'worst attempted jail-break ever'
May 10, 2010
By Heidi Blake
The Telegraph [UK]
A man who tried to break into prison to free an inmate while dressed as the cartoon character Snoopy is being held under the Mental Health Act.
Prison wardens were baffled when they were confronted by the character from the Peanuts cartoon trying to break down a staff door while apparently waving a gun.
The man and an accomplice, who were attempting to free a relative from HMP Isle of Wight, went on to hurl concrete missiles at prison officers' cars.
A prison source told The Sun: "It's not every day you see a giant cartoon dog go on the rampage after trying to break into a prison. They weren't exactly inconspicuous but they were taken seriously because they appeared to have a gun.
"They caused a real commotion and it was only later they were found to be armed with a water pistol."
It emerged after the pair were arrested that they had attempted to break into the wrong prison. They had staged the attempted jail-break at the Isle of Wight's Albany site, while the relative they were looking for was locked up in the nearby Cramp Hill unit.
The source added: "This has got to rank as one of the worst attempted jail breaks ever."
A spokesman for Hampshire Police said two men, aged 43 and 21, were arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and held under the Mental Health Act after the incident on May 1.
It is not clear which of the two men was dressed as Snoopy.
Lucy gets her turn at statue 'paint-off'
'Peanuts on Parade' project resurrected as artists gather this month to paint Charlie Brown's pal
May 9, 2010
By Dan Taylor
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat
Recognized worldwide as the crabbiest fussbudget on the planet, she dispenses cranky psychiatric advice at a sidewalk stand for a nickel.
And every fall, she promises to hold the football for Charlie Brown to kick but she always pulls it away at the last moment. She says the experience will build up Charlie's character.
She's really just an ink drawing on paper, but Lucy van Pelt, from Charles Schulz's "Peanuts" comic strip, is a major celebrity, instantly recognizable and arguably immortal. Even though Schulz died in 2000, Lucy and her pals live on in daily reprints.
Lucy will become a three-dimensional presence on the streets of Santa Rosa this summer in the form of 30 four-foot-tall, polyurethane statues, each decorated by local artists. The "paint-off" will be held May 20-23 at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, and the statues will appear around town after that.
"We picked Lucy because everybody wanted Lucy," said Craig Schulz, the late cartoonist's son. "I got a lot of feedback about that."
From 2005 through 2007, the Schulz family and the City of Santa Rosa placed more than 200 statues of Charlie Brown, Woodstock and Snoopy at sites all over Santa Rosa through a collaborative project called "Peanuts on Parade."
At the end of each summer, the statues were auctioned off to raise money for art scholarships and for permanent bronze "Peanuts" character statues, now at Santa Rosa's Finley Center and the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport.
Most of the lavishly decorated polyurethane "Peanuts" statues, while privately owned, still remain visible to the public all over town.
Schulz said his family and the city decided to bring the Lucy statues this year as an "encore" to the original three-year run because there was enough money for one more summer, on a slightly smaller scale.
There is also enough to pay for a third permanent bronze "Peanuts" sculpture, Schulz said.
This year, there will be no auctions. Half of the 30 statues will be sold to private sponsors for $3,500 apiece. The city will retain control of the remaining half of the statues and will place them permanently at public sites.
"We wanted to have some of the statues, so they could be permanently on display in Santa Rosa," said Pat Fruiht, marketing and outreach coordinator for the City of Santa Rosa.
One of the sponsors from the first three years of "Peanuts on Parade" is prominent Santa Rosa architect Larry Simons. He's not taking part this year, because he already has a Lucy statue.
When the program ostensibly ended three years ago, he also bought Linus and Lucy statues from TivoliToo, the company that manufactured the figures both for Santa Rosa and for an earlier, similar program in St. Paul, Minn., Charles Schulz's childhood hometown.
The cartoonist moved his family to Sonoma County in 1958, settling first in Sebastopol and later Santa Rosa, where he died in 2000 after writing and drawing the comic strip for nearly 50 years.
Simons had his whole collection of five statues bronzed for display on Stony Point Road near his architectural firm's offices.
"The Schulz family is a big part of Santa Rosa and Sonoma County history," Simons said. "This program is a great way to recognize a great man."
'Peanuts' composer Vince Guaraldi performs at Vallejo's Empress concert [sic]
May 7, 2010
By Rich Freedman
The Vallejo Times-Herald
[Editor's note: This article is riddled with errors -- starting with the howler in the headline -- so take some of the following "facts" with a grain of salt.]
The late Vince Guaraldi, noted for his Peanuts tunes, is saluted Thursday at the Empress Theatre by the USAF Band.
Vince Guaraldi's music -- much like the "Peanuts" characters associated with it -- has lived forever, though the man behind two of the most recognizable songs in America died 34 years ago.
Little did the San Francisco native realize his fame would still garner an avalanche of attention all this time after his fatal heart attack in 1976 at age 47, thanks mostly to the marketing of Charlie Brown, the lovable loser, who helped turn "Linus and Lucy," "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" into gold.
It's also helped that two noted contemporary musicians, David Benoit and George Winston, have helped perpetuate Guaraldi's keyboard wizardry to icon status.
"Vince, obviously, was a genius for the music he made," said David Guaraldi, the singer-songwriter's son.
David Guaraldi, 54, was only 20 when his dad was found dead in Menlo Park inn following a gig, the same day he finished recording the soundtrack for "It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown."
"And now, 35 years later, people are still interested in him," Guaraldi said proudly, noting that his dad created more than 100 songs, including "Little David," about his own boy.
David Guaraldi, a former Marin County resident for 32 years living in north Las Vegas, visits Vallejo on Thursday as The Commanders of the United States Air Force Band of the Golden West deliver a free concert featuring the music of Vince Guaraldi.
One of Guaraldi's 1962 recordings, "Navy Swings," helped promote joining the service. It was a year later when "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" achieved some success before "Peanuts" producer Lee Mendelson heard it on the radio.
And one of the most popular "Peanuts" tunes was born, followed by "Linus and Lucy."
The entire "Peanuts" compilation barely scratched the surface of what Guaraldi produced in his short life, his son said.
"There's nine albums worth of stuff nobody ever heard," David said. "A lot of it is live club stuff, stuff in the studio when he was trying to figure out while he's trying to make an album."
Right after Guaraldi's death, "my mom went in and found cases of the masters of his music," David said.
It was Winston, the man who helped launch Windham Hill Records, who perpetuated Guaraldi's gift.
"He loved Vince so much, he wanted to sound like him," David said. "So he listened to his music for inspiration."
No matter how many times Winston or Benoit play Guaraldi's songs, it'll never be exactly like the legend, his son said.
"Nobody can play 'Cast Your Fate to the Wind' or 'Linus and Lucy' like Vince," he said. "There are people who can do it, but not the way he did. There's a sound he (Guaraldi) makes where it's the only way you'll hear that sound."
During those early years, Guaraldi played intermission when stand-up Lenny Bruce took his breaks. Even as Guaraldi's popularity rose, the paychecks weren't astronomical, his son said.
"He hardly got paid anything for the music," David said. "Maybe $25,000 a year."
Guaraldi didn't have the endorsement opportunities and commercials that began a decade or so after his death.
"He didn't know what money was," his son said. "He didn't make a lot of it, though he had enough to own a beautiful house in Mill Valley back in the 1970s. He was happy. The main thing was, my father wanted to be left alone. I saw the process of making this music through my high school years and watched how he did it."
Looking back, "I'd say 85 percent of what he did was about kids. Dad loved kids," David said.
Much more, apparently, than he loved fame. At least, he didn't pursue it.
"He was the kind of guy who would say, 'Come out to my house and we'll rehearse.' And he just didn't tour," David said. "As far as 'Linus and Lucy' was concerned, to him, it was just a song that he played so many different ways. When he played it, you could figure out what mood he was in."
Wonderland swaps Scooby Doo for Snoopy
April 30, 2010
By Patty Winsa
The Toronto Star
Don't expect to see Scooby Doo or Dora at the opening of Canada's Wonderland on Sunday.
From now on, one of North America's busiest theme parks will be fronted by a 60-year-old canine.
Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang have replaced the colourful cinematic characters that once decorated the park's Hanna-Barbera Land and Nickleodeon Centre for children 6 and younger.
The newly themed area, called Snoopy Planet, features three new rides and a live Snoopy Rocks ice show. All traces of that other dog are gone.
Owner Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, which bought the theme park from Paramount in 2006, decided last year to import the comic strip characters from their U.S. parks, where they were a "tested brand" in attractions such as Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, and Great America in Santa Clara, Calif.
The company spent between $5 million and $10 million on redecorating, starting right after the park closed its doors for the season last October.
"We had the Peanuts brand at some of our parks in the United States with great success," said Dave Phillips, Wonderland's vice-president of marketing and sales. "It doesn't have the popularity that some of the other television brands did, but the children loved it."
It was also time to change brands, said Phillips. Nickleodeon Central, which launched in 2003, was 7 years old. "Every year we always look for ways to stay relevant with teens and families," he said.
But are a bunch of loveable kids and a dog, watched periodically on TV specials that are as old and visually scratchy as a record album, still relevant?
This week, the rights to the Peanuts characters were sold for $175 million by United Features Syndicate Inc. and E.W. Scripps to Iconix and the Schulz family.
"I think that expenditure is proof that business people, at least, feel that the characters, including Snoopy, are still popular," said Sheridan College animation professor Mark Mayerson.
The Peanuts brand has more than 1,200 licensing agreements with companies that include Universal Studios, CVS Caremark Corp. and Walgreen Co., according to a story by Bloomberg on the sale of the rights.
"Snoopy is a creature of his own fantasies. He is a World War One Flying Ace. He is Joe Cool," said Nancy Beiman, who teaches animation alongside Mayerson at Sheridan. "The fact that he never succeeds at any of his tasks does not stop him from continuing his imaginary escapades," she wrote in an email.
Beiman animated Snoopy and his brother Spike for a 1987 television special called It's The Girl In The Red Truck, Charlie Brown and 1988's feature film Snoopy the Musical.
But even before then, Beiman was a fan. She wrote to comic strip creator Charles Schulz when she was 7, and got a written reply on Snoopy stationery. Years later, she was able to thank Schulz personally when they attended the same cartoonists' party.
Beiman, who grew up in the United States, said a generation of American children were inspired to own and love beagles as a direct result of reading Peanuts.
"I was one of them," said Beiman. "I doubt if anyone ever bought a Great Dane pup because of Scooby Doo."
Peanuts tribute -- 'Dreaming' unveiled in Long Beach
Sculptor celebrates the work of Charles Schulz
March 27, 2010
By Tom Hennessy
The Contra Costa Times [California]
On July 10, 1981, Stan Pawlowski was invited to One Snoopy Place, Santa Rosa.
The address, as you might guess, was the studio and headquarters complex of the world's best-known cartoonist, Charles Schulz. A mutual acquaintance, who was a Peanuts licensee, had decided it was time for the creator of "Peanuts" to meet Pawlowski, a sculptor from Long Beach.
"I had been making products for several cartoon character companies and had been asked to bring along some of my artwork for Schulz to see," Pawlowski recalls.
"I will never forget when Charles Schulz first walked into the conference room. After we were introduced, he said he liked the samples I had shown him."
So inspired was Pawlowski, that on returning to Long Beach, he created sculptures of five Peanuts characters, each three inches tall and cast in sterling silver. Within a month, he was back in Santa Rosa, showing them to Schultz, who was known to his friends as "Sparky."
"He looked at the sculptures and said, `Now this is the type of quality I want to see being done using my characters."'
And that, the sculptor says, "was the start of a wonderful friendship."
Although Schulz is gone, this routine of approval continues to this day. Pawlowski's sculptures are subject to approval by a group called Creative Associates and by United Features Syndicate.
On the day of their first meeting, Schulz invited Pawlowski to lunch. "We walked over to the Warm Puppy, the restaurant located inside his ice arena. As we walked, I said I was a sculptor, but not a very good businessman.
"I never projected an analysis of what it may cost to create an item in advance. I would just create a sculpture ... no matter how it would affect the final cost. He liked my attitude about this, and told me that was how it should be."
Partners and pals
As the Schulz-Pawlowski partnership grew, so did the friendship. Three or four days a year, the Long Beach sculptor would drive to Santa Rosa, often bringing his latest works for the senior partner's approval.
Schulz reciprocated. In time he would call Pawlowski, sometimes just to chat, sometimes to cheer up the sculptor after a personal setback, such as break-up with a girlfriend.
They would talk about a variety of things, even religion. "I'm a Catholic," says Pawlowski. "I believed life might exist everywhere, even on other planets. Sparky was inclined to believe God created the universe and that man was unique and existed only on Earth.
"He would invite me to events, Pawlowski recalls. These included the Christmas shows held in Schulz's Santa Rosa ice rink. "He would give me the number one table at the show and would take time to come sit with my guests and me during the performances. I have shared so many great memories with him."
One such memory dates back to 1994 and the 45th anniversary of the Peanuts comic strip.
Schulz invited Pawlowski to join a group traveling to St. Paul, Minn., where Sparky had grown up in an apartment above his father's barber shop. When the apartment's modern-day tenant asked Schulz to leave a souvenir of his visit, the cartoonist found he had no pen. Pawlowski provided one. Schulz used it to memorialize a wall with a perfect likeness of Snoopy.
When Schulz was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Pawlowski was there to share the moment.
In all the time they shared business ventures and personal philosophies, Pawlowski never knew Schulz to have an angry moment. "I was always amazed how calm he was even under adverse circumstances."
Time for dreaming
On Feb. 13, 2000, the phone rang at Pawlowski's Long Beach home. The caller was Jeannie Schulz, the cartoonist's wife. Sparky had died during the night. "She didn't want me to wake up and be shocked on learning the news from television. Although I knew he was ill, I thought he would still pull through for quite a bit longer as I had been up to see him the week before.
"I was devastated. I was so upset that when someone from People magazine called to talk to me about our friendship, I couldn't say anything, not even what a great guy he was."
Schulz, 77, had died of colon cancer.
Four years after the cartoonist's death, Pawlowski began working on an idea he had harbored for years; a larger version of one of those sterling silver, charm-sized sculptures he had given Schulz when they met in 1981. Fourteen inches tall, a veritable colossus when measured against Pawlowski's smaller works, it depicts Snoopy at rest under a maple tree. Above the dog, ensconced in the tree is Snoopy's bird sidekick, Woodstock. Pawlowski calls the sculpture "Dreaming."
Pawlowski, who keeps a meticulous log of his work hours, began the sculpture in 2004. Working off-and-on, he invested 640 sculpting hours in the limited-edition work.
He unveiled "Dreaming" Saturday night in a private showing at his Broadway studio. Just as Schulz had his following, Pawlowski has acquired a coterie of fans. Some find his works a bit steep for their budgets; they are sometimes priced in the thousands.
"Dreaming" is a veritable wonder in miniature, and, says the sculptor, involved "a lot more work than any sculpture I have done before." He has dedicated it to Sparky and to "my number one fan, my sister Debbie, who lived in Minnesota and who died while I was sculpting the original wax."
The sculpture is now being poured into bronze at a local foundry.
Fans who attended the unveiling and looked closely at work unveiling could see that each tree leaf was sculpted separately and were able to discern such features as growth rings on the tree and on the twigs in Woodstock's nest. Two such fans are Jack and Lynda Bell, of Reno. They save their money just to buy Pawlowski sculptures. Jack is such a world-class Peanuts devotee that friends call him Snoopy.
The 640 hours Pawlowski spent creating the "Dreaming" sculpture represent more time than he has given to any previous work, including the giant Peanuts characters in Santa Rosa's Depot Park.
To a degree, creating the sculpture was a race against time - and the debilitating ravages of arthritis. Pawlowski is 57, and the arthritis, plus other complications, affect his hands. "Dreaming," in fact, may well be his last limited-edition work.
Schulz may well be looking down, thinking that happiness is not just a warm puppy. It is also a sculpture by Pawlowski.
Pianist George Winston plays the Katharine Hepburn Center
March 4, 2010
By Rick Koster
The Day Publishing Company [New London, Connecticut]
Pianist George Winston not only defined but also added critical dignity to the oft-maligned musical style called New Age. Albums such as "Autumn," "December" and "Winter Into Spring" established Winston as a composer and musician eerily great at capturing the evocative images and moods of respective seasons - and even a lot of snobs like them.
In fact, over time, these recordings have become ritual soundtracks for millions of fans who can't wait to turn the calendar page and queue up the appropriate Winstonian offering.
Would any of these fans believe, then, that Winston cites the Doors, New Orleans R&B pianists James Booker and Professor Longhair, and Frank Zappa's "Hot Rats" album as hugely influential in his life?
"There are artists whose work has just been hugely important to me, and I'm still amazed at their music and technique," says Winston, calling from the road on a tour that brings him Saturday to the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook.
Now, the prolific Winston has no problem with inspiration. He's recorded several albums, most of which emphasize original material.
At the same time, as a labor of discipline and homage, Winston has undertaken the Olympian task of teaching himself the complete works of the Doors and Professor Longhair - along with all the compositions and recordings by a third artist who is arguably his biggest inspiration: Vince Guaraldi.
Winston's latest CD, "Love Will Come," is his second release of interpretations of material by Guaraldi, the pianist indelibly familiar for scoring all the "Charlie Brown" television specials.
"I vividly remember December 9, 1965," Winston says. "It was the first broadcast of 'A Charlie Brown Christmas.' I heard 'Linus and Lucy' and was just mesmerized."
Already a music fiend, Winston was in a neighborhood record shop for his regular visit the next day, and the soundtrack to "A Charlie Brown Christmas" was displayed by the counter.
"I looked at it, and that's when I realized the music was written and played by Vince Guaraldi," he says.
Thus was born a musical love affair with Guaraldi, whose work inspired Winston to seek out other varied but always stunning piano talents. While his own songwriting muse relies on such influences as nature and, yes, the seasons, his love of the piano and its possibilities keep him exploring the work of his heroes.
Winston remembers meeting Guaraldi in 1971, shortly before the latter's death, and was able to play a few shows with him.
"He was so kind and encouraging," Winston says. "It makes you appreciate not just talent but the willingness of someone like that to share."
Winston ties in a charitable program as part of the Old Saybrook performance.
"We're asking folks to please join us in support of the Shoreline Soup Kitchen by bringing a donation of canned food to the show," he says.
Charles Schulz's legend still alive on Holmen rink
February 25, 2010
By Jo Anne Killeen
The Onalaska-Holmen Courier-Life [Wisconsin]
One of the original Zamboni's belonging to cartoonist Charles Schulz is in operation at Holmen's Deerwood Park. Paul Kenny and others with the Tornado Youth Hockey organization purchased one of the original Zamboni's used to clear ice at Schulz's Redwood Empire Ice Arena in California.
"We know it was purchased by Schulz in 1969," Kenny said. "Then it was in St. Paul on Lake Phalen. From what I've read, it went to a dealership in October 1995, and we purchased it from them. We just got it up and running. We had one or two things to fix and make it safe.
"Safe practices and open skate would not be possible without the quality ice that a Zamboni machine maintains," Kenny added. "Our vision for the future is to see the rink covered. Even with a Zamboni, we are at the mercy of the weather. This would bring some consistency to scheduling rink time."
Kenny hopes the lighted rink and the sleigh-riding hill will become a great place for "all the community to come together to enjoy skating."
The rink is now used for a few Tornado Youth Hockey practices as well as pond hockey, or unstructured time for youth.
Schulz did not have this particular Zamboni adorned with Peanuts characters as he had painted on later Zamboni's on his California rink. Kenny said the organization is looking at painting the Zamboni with Peanuts' characters, but there is no cash available for a paint job, and copyright issues could be a factor.
But Kenny and the organization are very happy with how it is helping their goal of growing ice hockey participants and providing skatable ice in Holmen.
A number of individuals, businesses and organizations in Holmen and Onalaska have built a grass-roots effort to enhance ice skating in Holmen and have contributed labor, parts and their time.
"We still have a way to go before we could consider the Zamboni truly reliable, but at the very least it runs now and is making ice, knock on wood." Kenny said.
Chad Pitman, according to Kenny, is the real mechanic under the hood of the Zamboni. "I get the parts, but he has the real mechanical skills," Kenny said. United Auto Parts out of Onalaska and First Products out of La Crosse, are some of the businesses that have supplied parts.
The community has pitched in as well. The Parks and Recreation department provides a heated shelter. The Holmen American Legion stores the Zamboni during the summer. The Holmen fire department comes and floods the arena and the town plows snow off the ice.
"The town," according to Kenny, "is usually pretty gracious about clearing the snow from the ice, but of course it is secondary to roads and sidewalks."
Ice is available up to 11 p.m. when the park closes.