Saturday, February 25, 2012
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Friday, February 17, 2012
16 or 17. Yes, this is the world in which I grew up. New York City. It was vibrant and real, hot and cool, rough and smooth: what did I see through the bus window when Robert Frank photographed this street view. I do not know the street but I recall the "types." They were not of my world and yet they were my world. These anonymous persons were to shape my life; if not the individuals photographed in Frank's masterful composition then in the messages they encoded in all their being.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Where to begin this lamentable tail [sic]? Was it the development of Bryant Park as a show place for costume and anorexic droids, or when it became a skating rink, or before these “improvements,” these dregs tossed to the populace, when it grew two ugly expensive eateries on the west side facing the park? Or was it the decision to sever "science and technology" and move this division to the former department store building gutted –miserably--by Gwathmey Siegl and Co for CUNY’s graduate school? Located on Madison Avenue between 34 the and 35th streets, it became [the] Science, Industry and Business Library or SIBL, yet another acronym cooked up in this age of acronyms and logos. Lavishly fitted out, SIBL diverted Croesus’ gold from the magnificent public research heart of New York City, causing cutbacks in every aspect of the library—local libraries, acquisitions, librarians, catalogers, upkeep, in other words, all.
In the New York Times’ article, written by Robin Pogrebin February 16, 2012) and edited by ? , the plans for the library’s future were explicated by a naked apologist for New York City’s real estate industry, among whose leading members are Stephen, a learned student of land reclamation, and his friend Mike, who admitted that his strength in college was numbers not language, the English language (all too evident when he speaks extemporaneously).
I love this institution. I began to use it in high school to do research. And I continued to use it in following decades: in college, in graduate school, in my professional career. Thanks to Brooke Astor, the library was stabilized after losing funding and a new current of enlightenment sizzled throughout the building. But then a funny thing happened. When exactly did this new trend become manifest? New goals appeared. Hours were cut, acquisitions were put off, librarians lost their jobs. Texts deteriorated. The changes mentioned earlier were external, except for the creation (and demise now) of SIBL. Poor Sibl. A life cut short. Why not? Not useful? Too expensive? Or is it greed-a better deal for the property whereon it resides? And even more scenarios can be imagined (But what will happen to the library’s holdings in science, industry, and business, and the remnants of technology? Where will these bothersome texts be shelved?) back to 42nd street? Or will they be left to the mercy of the lending library stack stalkers who Mr. Peter envisions browsing as in the good old days of Barnes and Noble. Surely a price will be charged for this privilege. And then what? The public library becomes a private library as it once was in the 19th century. But will the library also become fair game for the thieves, who will snap up books and then sell them on line. Surely this has happened already. Under the leadership of former trustees and the then president, the library was raped, in a manner of speaking.
Paintings bequeathed by the Old New Yorkers, the New Yorkers Edith Wharton wrote so lovingly and eloquently about, were sold off, some going to the southern museum built on an underground river that runs across a seismic fault, where they can teach the true “American spirit,” the essence of our nation’s aging spine. Poor Washington, our very first president was carried out the door, a noble man but one who lied about cutting down the cherry tree. No doubt. George was not worthy of modeling the model American for generations to come. Out with the old and in with the new. Or with nothing.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
As I have recounted on earlier posts, Kate was a "love at first sight" being, seen at a pet shop, now known as an outlet for puppy mills, but then in 1986, a store that sold animals and animal food. In a rush to see Legal Eagles, a movie with Deborah Winger and Richard Gere, we went into the store to buy my daughter, Jennifer fish food for the gold fish she had won at a local bazaar (and of course take care of her catch). Bess caught Harold's eye and he began to play with her and she responded eagerly. But he walked on. When I reached the cage I too played with her but I could not walk on; she was so extraordinary and winsome. Out of the cage she came and I watched as she ran about a little playroom. And she was mine. My heart was certain; no doubts. I wanted tot bring her home immediately but that was not possible. But the following morning, when the store was open Kate was put into a cardboard box and we drove home with our new family member. Since she had never experienced grass, when she was placed on it, she was tentative: "what is this stuff."
I have made so many errors of judgment but this was not one of the, Kate was the very best choice I ever made. She was a perfect creature: playful, thoughtful, clever, observant, beautiful, engaging: if only humans were half as fine as she our world would be so much better. She travelled to Maine, she loved the ocean, the tide; she was amazed and curious when a balloon floated close to the field she played in in Tenafly, NJ. I could make a fair list and it would never be sufficient. She looked, observed and tried to understand what that "thing" was. Ahave praised her in the past and I praise her still, and her face and a curl of her hair is in a locket that I always wear close to my heart. So dear she was to us, and to her "brother" companion Fala. She cared for him when he wa sill, and she played with him in health; She had a nurturing inclination and would take dolls out outside for play and to groom them them. And she was a ball player extraordinaire. She could pitch the ball with her mouth and then a return ball would be caught in mid-air.
Do I regret that we had her spayed. What a mistake. Her final illness was grievous and when death did not take her with ease but caused a dreadful struggle she was injected. Today her remains are on the mantlepiece and she is with us always. Her descendants are introduced to her and she is the matriarch of the family of scottish terriers who live with us. Her grand daughter Bess is our companion who has been instructed in family history and knows the story of Kate.
Saturday, February 4, 2012
Friday, February 3, 2012
the photograph is not an illustration; rather it is a visualization of my perception of ideas within the text
the poem, as I read it, accords with my sentiments
but John Updike was among the demi-deities of the 20th century
he will not be forgotten; but history can be difficult and there is always a tidal fall and rise,
but despair or better, the self regarding one's own being can only evoke dismay, unless it is a fool that gazes at the image
It came to me the other day
Were I to die, no one would say,
“Oh, what a shame! So young, so full
Of promise --depths unplumbable!”
Instead, a shrug and tearless eyes
Will greet my overdue demise;
The wide response will be I know,
“I thought he died a while ago.”
“For life’s a shabby subterfuge,
And death is real, and dark, and huge.
The shock of it will register
Nowhere but where it will occur.
John Updike in forthcoming collection , "Endpoint and Other Poems"