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Where I'm At

"Soundscapes" by Swedish photographer Erik Johansson. This was Janet's and my favorite of his big surreal photographs we saw at the Swedish Institute in Minneapolis. I realize this is a particular terrible photo of a photo. I don't think you can even get a glimmer of how clear & magical his work is. (Go to his website by clicking in the text on "saw art.")

I went to Minnesota. Saw my mother, saw the Twins, saw art, had laughs & food. 


Slept. Because no cat? or no trough to roll into between mattress & wall? Slept! 


I'm sleepy.



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Monday Quote

No man thinks there is much ado about nothing when the ado is about himself. 

~ Anthony Trollope


Exactly like when my late sister Edie said "it doesn't seem like minor surgery when it's happening to ME." 


Note: I was away till late last night. Will be back on a regular schedule from now on. 

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From the vault

This has been a bookmark for at least 20 years—notice the crumbly top, & I haven't owned a car since my last once got stolen in 1998. I guess this is pretty straightforward except: did I finish the errands? why did it end up saved all these years? do I still have that car stamp? Another bit of me that evokes no particular memory. It's my handwriting, all right, & those are all obvious errands. It's not precious & yet it's been here, half-hidden for decades till I pulled Paterson (I think it was) off the shelf again. Maybe I left it for myself to find & marvel at. 

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Monday Quote

When we risk no contradiction
It prompts the tongue to deal in fiction.
~ John Gay

I could probably do every quote as a rebuke to or a light on the person currently holding the office of president of the United States. 


It may be that there is no bottom. 

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I Heart NY #41919

Mimi Gross! 

At the Post Office, one of the counter ladies was wearing a church version of rabbit ears—they were fine. She was helping someone else but when I stopped she looked up. Can I help you? Gruff. I have to tell you a joke*, I said. They both liked it & we had that moment of New York friendly: total & then totally over. 


Then a chat with the girl at the library about the DVD I was returning, The Sandlot. One of her favorites & she had been excited last week when I checked it out & was thrilled that I liked it. 


Then the wonderful, colorful, happy-making Mimi Gross show at the Eric Firestone gallery on Great Jones street. 

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The NY Auto Show

1953 Fiat Berlinetta 8V ("otto vu"). For $1.8 million, this could be mine. 

I had skipped it the last couple years & was bored for a couple years before that, but this year's Auto Show wowed me. I felt the old excitement of walking into the Javits Center & seeing millions of dollars of steel & design. There were a whole bunch of Corvettes & a car that made tears spring out of me (see photo). Johnny made fun of me when I told him but this is beauty of a high order. What else but cry? I like the matte finish I saw on a couple of cars, though I had to get close to make sure it wasn't primer (I was there for Press Day so things aren't always completely set up). 

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Another of the Brainards that will be in the show opening Saturday & running through May 24 at Tibor de Nagy. 

Happy birthday to the love of my life. That doesn't say enough. Happy birthday to a man I admire & love beyond the puniness of my small self. Johnny Johnny whoops Johnny-o. 

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Notre Dame

The times I've been in Paris, it seemed that wherever I walked I'd end up in front of Notre Dame. It's magnetic—not surprisingly, given both its beauty & 800-year history. So sad to see it burn. I've been fascinated to read many people's accounts & see their photos, as well as a few sad sack comments (from friends of friends) criticizing having "more" feeling for a building than ["cause"]. There's a lot of that lately: If you don't care as much as I do about X, & express it as forcefully, then you're dead to me. 


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Monday Quote

This is so exactly how I felt. Feel. I fell in love with New York in the first 10 minutes I was here & have felt the same ever since. I'm lucky to be from elsewhere or I might not have gotten the blow of NYC all at once. 

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A poster on the wall at the School for Visual Arts. 

Rob Walker spoke at the 4th annual Phil Patton Memorial Lecture this week on his new book, The art of noticing: 131 ways to spark creativity, find inspiration, and discover joy in the everyday. The part after the colon clearly is there to get it onto the self-help shelves, because when he talked about noticing, it was riveting, serious, not cheesy at all. As an example, he showed slides of "what you're not supposed to notice": security cameras. As with Basquiat, Walker was able to change how I see what I see. 


Phil Patton taught design at SVA but I knew him from our days as auto writers. What an eye that man had. And mind. And oh my, he could write. 

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Still in the neighborhood

Our spring treat. The tulip tree (magnolia?) of the Marble Cemetery. Much as I love winter, this is fun! 

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In the neighborhood

The view from Anthology Film Archives at 2nd & 2nd. I live at 1st & 1st. 

My block was picked as his favorite, for the mix of buildings & neighbors, by a guy who walked all of lower Manhattan & wrote a book called Blockology. I don't have to cross a street to go to Anthology, the incredible Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Protection, the original Lil Frankie's restaurant, the Hare Krishnas, or the Catholic Worker. I'm across from the beautiful & historic Marble Cemetery, resting place of, among others, Preserved Fish, scion of the notable New York Fish family. Every day I walk outside & am grateful to live exactly here.

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Monday Quote

No public man in these islands ever believes that the Bible means what it says: he is always convinced that it says what he means.
~ George Bernard Shaw


Don't think that Shaw is hedging his bets with "in these islands." Shaw was never a bet-hedger, that's for sure. He's not the greatest writer but definitely one of the most quotable. Maybe those two attributes can't go hand in hand—complexity vs. quotability? 

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The Master Printers Building

The Master Printers Building aka Bruno was one of the tallest reinforced concrete buildings in the U.S. at the time it was completed, in 1927. YAI has a couple of floors & it's where I go weekly to teach karate to students with learning disabilities. 


I have reams to say about my students & how much they mean to me, but for now I'm only thinking about the building. It's 20 stories—it would be the most significant building in my hometown but while attractive is no great shakes in NYC. This floor is the most deluxe thing in it. 


The building is being sold & YAI is looking for a new home. 

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Buster's big adventure

First there was spring cleaning. Then a visit from two strangers (to Buster). Then I made a burnt offering of a paschal yam* that filled the house with an incredible cloud of smoke. So when I opened the door & window, Buster took off. 


When someone was going around knocking, I assumed it was because they wanted to make sure the fire was out or they would call 911. But no: do you have a cat? he's under the bed in Apt 1. 

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What I'm reading

Haven't made that list for a while. Here goes:


* Educated, Tara Westover. From survivalist Idaho to a Cambridge PhD. Riveting. 

* Eager: The surprising secret life of beavers and why they matter, Ben Goldfarb. Gotta get a little nature in there every once in a while. 

* An Amanda Cross mystery, really by Carolyn Heilbrun. I tried reading her memoir about aging but got bored with her determination to commit suicide at 70 & her humblebrag about her country house. 

* The March of Folly, Barbara Tuchman. Hoping it will shed some light on current events. Light & sweetness. 

* Tom Sawyer in Norwegian. There's always a word I don't know but I can get the gist pretty well. 

* How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer, Sarah Bakewell. My new favorite writers, both Montaigne & Blakewell, although I didn't get into her At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails, despite the great title.

* Depressing books about Ezra Pound & Henry Kissinger

* Poetry by everybody (that's a different list)

* Sometime I'll have to make a list of what I'm not reading—books I was excited about but abandoned, often very quickly. 

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Not quite the neighborhood

EZ Pawn Shop.

I took this picture from the bus going west on 14th Street. I was happy that there still is a bit of low-rent Manhattan in my neighborhood. I was only once in a pawn shop, in Mexico City, I believe the one called the Monte de Piedad. Huge & fancy, not sleazy, a tourist stop at least it was back in the 1980s. I like that a pawn shop is still called that, no euphemism when ya need yer money. 

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Monday Quote

"Not to find one's way about in a city is of little interest. But to lose one's way in a city, as one loses one's way in a forest, requires practice."

~ Walter Benjamin, A Berlin Childhood Around 1900


My desire to wander, lost, fights with my fear of being lost. But how are we to be surprised by a punch to the gut without dropping our hands? And what wakes us up more than a good sock? 

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