Notes along the way

Notes along the way.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Notes on the fly

Thriftstore deco pop art plate
Price: $20
Artist unknown

We left New York on Friday and flew to Los Angeles where we spent a few days doing the town with M.'s mom. That is, we took her to her favorite charity thrift shops. She had a great time and even came away with a few super bargains. Just for the record, the broken glass and toys deco pop art plate pictured above was not among them. And we went to MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art). After seeing the Jeff Koons retrospective at the Whitney in New York, I was prepared to be unimpressed by their Warhol exhibit but big surprise! Shadows was delightful.

Warhol - Shadows
MOCA, 2014

It is a single work composed of 102 variously silkscreened and hand painted canvases. The images are based on two impressions of a shadow in Warhol's studio. A few minutes in the room and my dismissive attitude melted under their unobtrusive and oddly soothing sway. All together, the paintings are charming in the way a chant is charming or yes, okay I'll say it, an afternoon shadow. Because of its size, this is only the second time Shadows has been shown in its entirety. The curator describes the collection as a "haunting, environmental ensemble". Even though it's a Warhol, for once I agree the rhetoric.

And as I'm on the subject of works by Anointed Ones such as Warhol, Koons and Wool, I recently read a thread on Metafilter about why their art is so "valuable". Warhol's picture of a coke bottle recently sold for $57.8 million and Koons' Balloon Dog (Orange) sold for $58.4 million, a new high mark for a living artist. Considering the relative inanity of these "masterpieces", this may leave one wondering what the fuck IS art anyway? Without going all "art speak", the very pinnacle of pomposity, it helps to keep in mind that the value of any work of art is arbitrary and personal. Consider those stick figure drawings your toddler gave you back when. Priceless. Just so, in a lessor fashion of course, it is not hard to see why billionaires treasure works by the Anointed Ones. Buying and selling these "masterpieces" allows them to legally move great gobs of money around. The upscale Art Market could be otherwise called the Billionaire Laundromat.

"Apocalypse Now"
Price: $26.4 million
Christopher Wool

And now, after traveling for 45 hours, we're in Bangkok. I count that time from Los Angeles when we got up in the morning to Bangkok when we finally got to bed some two nights later, after dinner and walking to the Big C for bananas, oatmeal and instant coffee for breakfast. We're staying in an apartment M. Lee found on airbnb. It costs $60 a day, which is a lot more than the $9 a day room we had in Chiang Mai last winter, but it's Bangkok and in a great location.

Inflight map

Friday, October 10, 2014

For the record

Ordinary day at Times Square
As I was saying, Bloggoroid gobbled up the post I tapped out yesterday on my phone during our bus ride into the City. I no longer scream when these things happen. Some of my losses have been far worse. We all know it's part on life online so here goes again. What follows is a list, mostly without comment. If I have time for more, I'll add it at the end.

NY Times
from Port Authority Bus Terminal

In the week we've been in New York, we've seen two Broadway plays, "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" and "It's Only A Play". Wonderful. We caught the Jeff Koons exhibit at the soon to be "old Whitney".  One of his pieces fetched the highest price ever received by a living artist but, IMO, he's not an artist but a designer of over-sized kitsch that, if shrunk down to regular size, I wouldn't pay a dollar for. But then, that's "art" in the world of high finance. We have eaten in a variety of places. Because M.'s mother's tastes range from Michelin Star restaurants to skeevy Chinese noodle and dumpling houses, we've eaten at both. And yesterday we made a pilgrimage to Yonah Schimmel's Knish Bakery in the Bowery, a favorite from Kathy's time in the City during her youth. Also, we visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art twice, munched on sandwiches in Central Park, took what seems like a thousand cold-hearted subway trains and enjoyed our daily short, civil bus trip from New Jersey to Manhattan and back.

Chinatown, NYC
New Jersey itself is perhaps the most pleasant surprise of all. It's quiet, clean and residential with wide sidewalks, trees and a million, no, a three million dollar view of the City across the Hudson. It's a Latino Mayberry. If you don't know what Mayberry is/was, I mean to say it's America circa the 1950s complete with high school football practice and tree-lined streets. If it has a seething, gang-ridden underbelly I am totally, and blissfully, unaware of it.

Kathy at Prosperity Dumpling
Chinatown, NYC

As for the streets of New York, they are a panoply of languages. Mid-town and down, is the center of the hive and chaotic circus complete with food carts, wandering Spidermen, Gumbys, Cookie Monsters and every other cartoon and fantasy character, every kind of fashion, nearly naked ladies, hell fire preachers, millions of pounds of squishy tourists, sly hustlers, bustlers, immigrants, cops, military, rich, poor and inbetweens. The buildings themselves have been transformed from their original brick and stone into dazzling, ricocheting video screen mazes designed to stun and hypnotize and do. Oh, and this weekend the International Comic-Con is happening so today the streets should be extra freaky.

Ordinary day at Times Square

Oops. M. Lee just jumped up and announced that he miscalculated the time. Okay. Sorry. No time to edit this. I'll fix it later. I hope my mistakes aren't too egregious. I'm sure I'll be embarrassed when I read it later but I'm determined to post something. Otherwise, I post nothing.   So.... photos to follow.

The Elms

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bloggeroid ate my post

I did a better post on the bus coming in from New Jersey. This one I'm doing as we wait for the day's sandwiches to be made. Today we're going back to the Met. OK. Gotta go.

PS I don't care how big they are, how much his sculptures go for, or what techniques he has his minions employ, I don't like Jeff Koons' "work" and I think he's an asshole.
posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, October 5, 2014

NY street scene

This will have to be quick. You know how it is. We were supposed to leave at 11 AM and it's already 10:55. Oops. :56.

We're in New York with M.'s mom. Her treat, we're going to a Broadway play this afternoon. Don't ask which one. I don't remember. I've got bigger things on my mind, such as downloading my photos from yesterday. M. and I sat out on Times Square on small red metal folding chairs while his mom shopped at H&M. It was a circus. Of course,  my photos are no different than the thousands, perhaps millions, of other photos people took of the place yesterday but here's one of mine.

NYC, Times Square street scene

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Notes on last summer

Grammatically correct Bangkok graffiti.

Old editors don't die. They just wander the world critiquing graffiti. Never mind the expression. It's typical of the trade. The Language Barrier's Itinerant Editor is actually expressing pleasure over the correct use of the apostrophe. Thus we are going back to Bangkok for more. Before we leave, I have much to do. That is why, of course, I am doing a blog post which I must begin with a lament.

I blew it! Thea Bella and Kristiana stayed with us for five weeks in Florida this summer but I kept only the barest record of their wonderful visit on my external memory, otherwise known as this blog. Now there is not, for the cold winter nights ahead, a reliable path back to those sweet memories, only flitting recollections of the quirky details, things five-year-old Thea said and did. So, for my future self, here are three memories. May they lead to more.

Every night, Thea would invite me to come listen to the bedtime story, Harry Potter. At that point, they were nearing the end of book two. I would bring my pillow and lay on the end of the bed and Kristiana read to us. She is a fabulous reader. Very dramatic with perfect, distinct voices for each character. It was very entertaining. Thea's memory is much better than mine. She knew the plot and all the characters by name and the reading seemed to energize her. With the irrepressible curiosity of a five-year-old, she asked a lot of questions, all the while doing things like standing on her head and bouncing on the bed. That took some getting used to as, being grandma and all, I became instantly drowsy and was happy to drift in and out under the spell of the words. It was a bedtime story after all. In any case, this endearing nightly ritual became, for me, one of the defining moments of the summer.

Another defining event was how Thea, being so enamored by the sometimes even 90° water of the Gulf, refused to come out even long enough to eat lunch. She'd run ashore, grab her sandwich, give grandpa his, then they'd have to run back into the water. She would only eat standing in the waves. By the end of the summer she was snorkeling, beginning to anyway, and fearless in the surf. 

Mesdames K. and T.
An electric evening at the jetty

Then there were the amazing, wild tales she and grandpa made up about everything. I wish I'd recorded some of them. For example, they discussed reflections in mirrors. The little Florida house has many. She wondered if the Theas in the mirrors were real. That story almost got out of hand. They pondered which was the real Thea. Was Mirror Thea the real Thea? Was she her reflection? I almost pulled the plug on that one because, for the one moment Thea considered that, her eyes took on the appearance of dark, faraway vortices. Luckily, the next moment she rejected the idea and declared that, without a doubt, she was the real Thea and the Mirror Theas, each and every one of them, were their own separate persons. Naturally on the last day, when she and Mom were preparing to leave for the airport, she went around saying good-bye to them all and wishing them well.

As for our time in LA with M. Lee's mom, way back in July, at some point I will also do a post on it. M. Lee even requested that I do. A first! For the record, I started one before Thea and Kristiana arrived, also back in July, but it still languishes in draft. When Mesdames Thea and Kristiana came, blam-o! I did manage my morning five minute write, before Thea got up, but that's about it. My hat is off to all parents with fledglings in the nest. I think we forget, once our kids are launched, how totally engaging they are. There's never a second. It would be 9 or 10 PM before I could finally sit down to write about the day, then suddenly I'd wake up disoriented, exhausted, laptop gone dormant, cicada singing away in the mangrove dark and I could only toddle off to bed, the day gone and unwrit. So for now, minimal as it is, this will have to do.

Shane, Lee and Kathy at the Getty - LA