Sunday, August 30, 2009

Seeing the Gugg

It isn't the Guggenheim when the main galleries with their famous windy ramps up inside the circular structure are CLOSED. I paid the reduced entrance to get in anyway -- if you ask me, it wasn't reduced enough -- and fought through the crowds to see some Picassos, Pollock, Renoir, Van Gogh, Kandinskys, Chagalls, etc. There were also some quite large Frank Lloyd Wright rooms with video projections, models, and architectural plans, many of them never built but fascinating structures very different from his famous Prairie houses. Too bad.

As always, I say that audio tours are the scourge of museums, because it causes infinite clumping, especially in a space as small as the Guggenheim's side galleries. If anyone's thinking of going right now, I'd wait till they finish the main installation and reopen the whole thing.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I owe him

Without Ted Kennedy, my parents would never have come to America.

This is probably the best and most unshakable tribute I can give him. He was one of the chief movers and shakers of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 that, contrary to his own rhetoric, did do quite a bit to reshape the ethnic makeup of immigrants to this country, my own two parents among them in the early 1970s. My mother came in as a medical worker (a nutritionist), my father as a student (and, I suppose, stayed on after school as spouse).

Was his career, or rather the post-1969 part of his career, worth a woman's life? I can't answer that question, but I also never voted in Massachusetts during an election for him. I also don't come of a region or generation that has much use for the Kennedy mystique -- that odd combination of machismo, public service, politics, and privilege -- and I recognize that he paid a pretty high price for his, burying one soldier brother and two assassinated brothers. Teddy did a fairly good job overall of living up to both the best and worst that was ever said about the Kennedys. But I know that because of him, I am here.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Just haven't been posting. Expect a long post soon with my slightly aggrieved thoughts about the Twilight series. My Brooklyn friends own them, so I've been reading them at the gym, slightly embarrassed to be carrying them.

Tried to go to the Guggenheim today; I've actually never been. But there was a massive line that curved around the corner of the museum, this at 4:30 (it's open late today). I said hail no and walked down Fifth Ave to the Met, which luckily was open late as well. I had already taken my parents there, but I visited my favorite Van Gogh and other old hotspots. More importantly, I saw the special Treasures of Afghanistan exhibit, which includes items that simply weren't known to have been preserved during recent chaotic events till, uh, more recent chaotic events turned them up. The gold artifacts from the burial mound of Tillya Tepe are on display, the highlight of the collection. It's like the Sutton Hoo of Afghanistan. Exactly what tribe or kingdom these are from is not known; it's speculated that the male buried in the center is a king or ranking chief of some kind, with women possibly sacrificed around him. It's often referred to as Bactrian, which is an adjective you don't hear anymore except to refer to camels.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Life of leisure

I have always thought that in order to live in NYC, or at any rate to enjoy it, you have to have either money or energy. Ideally both. One of the things that requires mostly energy is boating on Central Park Lake. (It's $12 for the first hour and $2.50/15min after, as low a boating rate as I've ever seen in any reasonably sized town .)

Here's a view of the lake from the boat after we had made it away from the boathouse into the main area. You can see one of the tiny islands in the lake, and the pretty bridge.

I rowed my parents around on Saturday, not always an easy task in a rowboat, which travels backwards. Lots of people on the lake had never rowed before, plainly, not least the two toddlers with a mom who was letting them try to handle one oar. I did greatly enjoy our exchange with the boatman when we were embarking.

Boatman: "Ladies, both on the back seat, please."
Me (firmly): "Oh no. I'm doing the rowing. I appreciate the thought, though."
Dad (to the boatman): "This is for you young folks, you know."