Meetings that Link
of the 1930s to now.
What follows are
short descriptions of:
my meeting with Francine Olnay in October 2016
Her pondering who Bill
Rutland was (Summary version below)
PDF files for the
Link to Meeting Francine Olnay longer (7 pages)
Link to Francine, Rutland & the
TECHNOPOLITANA vision (9 pages)
It was a grey Thursday in mid-October 2016. I was in the west of
Ireland and I wanted to look up a man I knew slightly. I was
doing this on behalf of a reporter friend who knew him well.
I was shy because he did
not have a reputation for being sociable. Though, when I called
him he seemed glad of the contact. His name was ‘Arne’ – known
as Spy – Nielsen. He had been a war zone reporter for many years
– he was now forty nine.
He operated without much
visibility, contributing to the reports of others, often acting
as a liaison for tv crews and the like in dangerous places he
knew better than they. He had begun to concentrate on
environmental issues – illegal logging, for example. He was, by
now, forty nine.
I arrived at his house. There
was no one home. The place surprised me -- the river running by
the house and the ancient trees. The house was substantial, not
what I expected.
No Spy. Instead I met Francine
Olnay -- here was an American clothes designer and fashion
And she had been swimming in
the river in mid-October.
'Fashion models do odd things,'
Read the longer version of the encounter that led to the
revival of Planet Technopolitana. (7 pages/PDF format).
High Desert, Nevada,
north of Reno, taken by Francine Olnay on the way to Rutland's
old camp, December 27, 2016.
& the Technopolitana
aren’t close to nature. Modern clothing, Francine thinks --
modern shoes, modern cars, modern plastic bottles for water,
modern lightweight sleeping bags and wind resistant tents, air
mattresses… . And yet…… the chill of night air on their faces,
the whisper of wind in the bare cottonwoods, the sweet smell of
sage, the moon looking directly at them, peeing in the earth.
One cannot so much touch as listen to the silence. There is no
light pollution here and the sky is alive with stars.
It is Nick, has
crept back and put his hands around his mother. She sleeps with
Lilit and he under the awning of the next tent. This is wild
country. The next day they find a long, dry valley which is
testing for the mother and thrilling for the children. It is
boulder strewn and to follow it you have to hop from rock to
rock. One day they cross the dry lake to a hot spring, find they
are in company with a biking couple from Los Angeles. Nick’s
science teacher who has given him a celestial map and one night
the stars are bright.
Put earth first. Is
that the deep Rutland message? Humans have to learn to take
tarnishing itself with the dominant species idea dominating.
And she is
who? She is in the apparel business. Instead of going to
college, she modeled in Milan and Paris. And yet… and yet. She
has re-discovered Rutland for whom there is almost no record, no
Wikipedia page, almost nothing of the rival to TIME in which he
published his Planet Technopolitana page, just one copy
available second hand on the web of the one of the two slim
volumes of his collected journalism.
on their third day so they take David Burns’ warning. They pack.
Francine finds the children have a sense of purpose, working
together to get the gear together and telling their mother to go
for a walk while they do this. What is their mother doing
talking about Technopolitana? They sort of understand. She’s
gone too far? Camping out in remote Nevada has gone to her head.
Who was Bill Rutland?
Link to longer version
Old corrugated iron buildings at the site where Rutland and
Melinda Fellowes thought up Planet Technopolitana in 1929.
Cottonwood trees, taken by Francine Olnay December 28, 2017.