I have recently returned from ten incandescent days in New York City. Or rather, eight incandescent days and two with thunder and lightning and flash flood alarms. It’s that kind of world. Although I have been to New York many times it had been fifteen years since my last real visit of any length, and I had never committed that primal rite of passage, The Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge. Over the years it had evolved in my mind into an epic solo journey with only myself, the wind, and ancestral vertigo as company.
Ahh, those 10,000 other people, what did I know? And all of them walking home from Manhattan against my little tide. I can’t say enough about the beauty of tarps, and tarps with boldly censored grafitti which, for a person who makes their livelihood decoding the alphabet, is very close to bliss. I traveled well-protected in this billowing crib, although several Brooklyn-bound bicycles nearly took out my camera arm.
I would like to thank my dear friend and talented photographer Teresa Morani for showing me the Wonders of DUMBO and in general guiding me through the circuit overload of this astonishing city. (“Why,” asked a new acquaintance on the tarmac at La Guardia, “do they keep re-naming parts of the city that we already know some other way? What the hell is Dumbo?” I feel her pain, but I can’t really resist an acronym that stands for “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.” It pretty much lets you know that you are entering a city where people live steeped in place. They notice things. (And of course, once noticed, things become very expensive……) Here are a few of the 1,734 moments glimpsed as I mostly walked Manhattan and Brooklyn, avoiding Google maps and asking someone new every few blocks where I was and where I was going. Many of these images will be available as prints at a later date and will be posted in the prints or photography section of my website. (Click each image to see larger.)
Last night I went for a walk to see if I was happy to be home, and I was. This city is so quiet people whisper in restaurants and you can hear the clouds scrape against the sky. There is the occasional disturbance, if you look for it. As I walked towards the bay I heard a raucous shrieking and looked up to see nine crows chasing a bald eagle. They kept going until I lost sight of them far beyond the edge of the park. Here at the frontier there is time to think and recollect. Every night I am dreaming of buildings, and then I wake up and plant peas and divide the baby lettuce. If you would like to know some of the places I went while in New York and the things I recommend here is a short list:
The Highline (Oh Seattle City Council, please please please, can we do this with five feet of the viaduct??)
The Met, Most especially the exhibit of Civil War photography, best viewed after getting lost for a few hours in the Cycladic art collection, just for historical perspective
MOMA, especially Dieter Roth’s “Later this will be nothing.” Also, I suggest having lunch there in the cafe for several hours while reading a novel, perhaps Jennifer Egan’s “A Visit from the Goon Squad”. People will be having very interesting conversations one eighth of an inch away from your elbow, mostly in “foreign” languages, but you may hear about the custom fireplace that very nice looking man is installing for those people with the third home on Fire Island. It’s taken him two years and it’s not yet done.
Gagosian Gallery, Anselm Kiefer’s new exhibit “The Morganthau Plan” And while you are there will you please pick up the book for me? It wasn’t in stock the first week. The other book, Next Year in Jerusalem, is crazy wonderful so I have to assume this one is too. If you see the stereoscopic displays of the Civil War scenes at the Met first it will make these paintings look very different. I think anybody planning to wage a war might want to stop in to these two exhibits before firing up the drones.
Rosanne Olson’s “Rapture” at Robin Rice Gallery. Sublime.
Central Park on a sunny day. There is no greater bliss. Blow a bubble for me.