Saturday, February 23, 2013

February, the Cruelest Month (inc. Frank's Pratt Panel, SI "Swimsuits", and Abbey Road)

It's official.  The cruelest month has been moved from April to February.  While it may not have bred lilacs out of the dead land, each day has competed with the last for subtlety, range and intensity of insults, and worse.
(In fact, the worst thus far has been the fire at Pratt, which I will deal with in the next blog post.)

January saw me successfully skiing in Prospect Park...

...on a two-inch snowfall that soon disappeared.

In early February the snow comes back in full force.

3rd Street is a lovely place in a snowstorm...
...unless you have totally bald tires, which fully half the drivers in the city seem to suffer from
so all snow storms are accompanied by squealing, spinning tires...

Prospect Park is at its best, post storm!
I take my skis and prepare to enjoy the pristine surroundings...

People pour into the park with children and sleds.  Ahead looms the icy facade of the 
"On Prospect Park" building by Richard Meier,
a glass block of condos and rentals that has had more than its share of controversy and
troubles in its four year history.

I've always kind of liked the look of this building,
which faces down the Brooklyn Public Library, but
many others feel that it stands out like a sore thumb 
amidst the stately brick and stone neighborhood. 
Still others find the glass sheathing a source of constant entertainment, 
especially those folks in nearby buildings who settle in with a glass of wine and a pair of binoculars for an evening of watching people in glass houses!
Of late this tempest-tossed building has seen sales of five million dollar condos, has lost its Temporary Certificate of Occupancy and not acquired a permanent one, has voted in a building-wide smoking ban
and been called "Big Brother," has been accused of "misappropriation of funds, a leaky curtain wall, an 'unsalvageable roof,' according to

While under these trees, taking photos I lose my balance and fall over in the soft snow, no injuries, 
not at all an unusual occurrence on skis, 
but this time I find myself unable to put my skis on again, as the binding mechanisms that connect shoe to ski fill with icy snow and reject this much-to-be-desired coupling over and over.
For the first time in my life, I must give up and go home,
leaving the rest of the world at the park to have fun!!!
Rage, rage, rage against the unbinding of the skis!

I try again the next day, hoping to get an early start and beat the crowds, and this time things work splendidly, partly due to the fact that the snow is packed down like concrete.

However, my efforts to beat the crowd run afoul of the 
"Dogs Run Free" hour, and I find the entire park packed, teeming with dogs.
It's not that I don't like them, because some of my best friends have been dogs.
Well, maybe not, but one-on-one is one thing - in packs, en masse,
I find dogs disturbing and potentially dangerous.
Domesticated canines in groups lose their sense - I've seen them chasing deer and cows, 
and it's not a pretty sight.  They'll take a deer down and not understand how to actually kill it,
just maim and play, and they'll grab cows by the noses and ears,
torturing their domesticated brethren with dog-like enthusiasm...
So it doesn't make me happy when several of the larger ones decide to take on my skis as their sport,
chasing me as I ski away while their hopeless "masters" stand by and 
call to them ineffectually.  
My punishment for coming to the park at the wrong time, it appears.
The foolish creatures don't realize I have two pointed sticks in my hands...

Here they are, the darlings, as their time in the sun ends and the park begins to clear out.

Here's a small sculpture, a mini-snow-person who has been cunningly decorated by her canine friends,
one of which comes to scratch and sniff and lick.  Yummm!

In any case, my 2013 skiing has not been the best.

Another joyous February sight is this sign is in the subway at DeKalb and 7th Avenue.
The AFDI is run by Pamela Geller who tweets under an "Atlas Shrugs" logo.
They recently paid big bucks for a series of these ads, according to the NY Times, all to be placed next to clocks in subway stations, owing to the profound metaphorical implications.

Interesting how that quote is so similar to many phrases in the "Old Testament" such as the following,
found at random, basically by opening up a Bible and pointing:
"And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them; nor shew mercy unto them." Deuteronomy 7:2

More wonderful February sights:  now the snow melts into dirty blackened piles, 
but the trash refuses to melt with it.

Third street has gone from this,
to this:

I escape into my memoirs, which address a certain four month period
in San Francisco, tentatively entitled "Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll."
I travel the streets of San Francisco via old pictures I took when I was there in 2005
and also via Google maps, my favorite vacation vehicle these days.
Below, the greenish building second from left, on Clinton Park between Guerrero and Valencia, is where I used to live during that long-ago time, near the old Levi Strauss Factory
which was still churning out jeans at the time.

(Photo by Amelia John Photography)

I follow Andrew and Jennifer virtually as they trek south from San Francisco...

...down to LA for real, arguably the most beautiful highway driving anywhere.

(Photo by Amelia John Photography)

I find another virtual Va-Ca spot in Abbey Road, this from 
Geoffrey Dicker (of According-2-G blog fame where you can find out what you need to know about current art and music and things that rock our world)
whose random Facebook posts states:
"Mean Mr. Mustard..."
And all at once, I'm in the middle of composing a story called 
"The Candy Store on Abbey Road,"
that dictates itself to me as I write down about how
Reggie Mustard was a carriage driver who, after getting kicked in the head by one of his Fresians,
turns mean, begins ranting obscenities at the queen, and subsequently goes to live with his go-getter sister Pam who works at John's Candy Store, owned by George, 
 Pam who gives up her skirts, begins dressing like a man, gets written
up in The News Of the World  by reporter Maxwell Edison
with his Silver Hammer Photography business... 
and so forth and so on...

I also find myself obsessively watching the Abbey Road Crossing WebCam and night...'s pretty addicting.
Also I visit Abbey Road's "Zebra Crossing"via Google Earth...

...which now has funny zigzag marks on the road that weren't
there when our boys crossed the road to get to the other side...

...again and again...

(Internet photo)

I've sent "The Candy Store on Abbey Road" out to several venues,
where hopefully someone will pick it up and print it on real pages,
but if anyone would like to read it in the meantime, let me know.
It's a pretty fun story, especially if you like the Beatles.

Speaking of the 60's, here's the Valentine's Day card that I sent to my ex-husband (I'd forgotten his birthday on January 30th, so it did double duty) 

(Photographed on the Isle of Wight in 1969 by Roger Jackson.)

The inside of the card says, "All you need is love."

Well, maybe not I write to Rick on the card...
Here he is with me and a tiny Aaron, June 1973 on Winding Road Farm, also with Helen's dog Jessie.
Jessie was a lovely dog, but I remember some intense commune meetings about the place of dogs  in the world:  in the country; in the city, etc. - where do dogs belong?
Visitors were required to leash their dogs after some 
ugly run-ins with city dogs and country cows and chickens.
Those were the days, my friend.
(Picture taken by Helen Quinn)

February has also seen Frank (my other, more current husband) present his artwork at a Pratt panel
called "The Figure in Flux" organized by Hannah Barrett.

Here he is with one of his corner nudes, everything in the picture carefully
placed with his own complex system of perspectival trigonometry.

This panel was a response to a Fine Arts faculty disagreement about the importance/relevance
of the figure in art, something that, say, De Kooning had to answer for 
 all those years ago when he, gasp, stuck fat and feisty female figures in abstract compositions,  
T'was he who said, “Flesh was the reason oil paint was invented."

It seems that some in Pratt Fine Arts don't seem to understand 
that art is more than simply chasing down the "new" into various dead ends -
that it has to do with deep, often ineffable impulses, obsessions and intellectual pursuits.

Frank does his "Altered Art History" in a spirit of humor and homage.
 Here's Winslow Homer's "Undertow" and then Frank's version below:

Here's John Singer Sargent's "The Misses Vicker"
and then Frank's version:

The panel included (l - r) Hannah Barrett, Kurt Kauper, Nicole Eisenman, Ridley Howard, and Frank, all of whom incorporate the figure in diverse ways with diverse meanings
into their paintings and artwork.

Speaking of nudes, recently I was looking up the history of corsets, and came across this
old photograph, showing what magic a bit of cloth can do.
Nowadays we'd use surgery for this waistline trick.

Speaking of bits of cloth, here is a bizarre ad for "Direct TV" in the celebrated "Sports Illustrated" "swimsuit" issue. 
 I thought, finally, they've included a real suit worthy of my attention 
instead of the usual strategically-placed-pieces-of-cloth-
that masquerade as swim-suits.

But then I figured out the sad truth: 
we're supposed to like the hot babe on the right way better than the hick cutie on the left.

However,  Direct TV, you lose this time!   I love that picture on the left!  I want CABLE!

Frank gets SI this year, a freebie when he bought a gift subscription.
I find it more boring than ever.
The front covers never seem to change:  some winner big guy stepping on some loser big guys.

November 17, 1980 (Hirschel Walker cover)

January 14, 2013 (Photograph by Al Tielemans)

Unless it's about basketball.  Here's Michael Jordan at 50, famous
for the game, obviously, but arguably more famous for 
the most successful ad campaign in the history of corporate greed.
The most well-known man on the planet for a time,
and he uses fame and adulation to sell super-expensive shoes
to young people who can't afford them.

FEbruary 18, 2013 (Photo by Walter Iooss Jr., Illustration by Jordan Metcalf)

Here's a quote from an article in December, 2011 by Jemele Hill of ESPN:
"I don't know why I keep hoping that Michael Jordan will one day grow a conscience and show he's more than an opportunistic pitchman who overvalues the bottom line...
Last week, Jordan and Nike released his retro gym shoe, the Air Jordan XI time for the Christmas rush, but the special release incited a rash of violence nationwide.
Customers engaged in fights and vandalism. A Jersey man was stabbed during a brawl that broke out while people were waiting in line to buy the shoes. A mother was arrested for leaving her two children, ages 2 and 5, in the car while she went inside a mall to buy a pair of Jordans in Georgia. And gunshots rang out at one mall in California, causing thousands to be turned away."

Too bad Jordan is not more like Magic Johnson,
who is a true hero.

Speaking of ad campaigns, here's one that says a lot about the state of our world, at least in "Sports Illustrated," where women who look like they're dead become playgrounds for men's toys, in this case,
Dodge "RAM" trucks:

Very creepy, especially in light of the recent deadly shooting of a beautiful model by her 
sportsman boyfriend Oscar Pistorius in South Africa.

Not to mention the implications for "female as earth" symbolism - man and his 
gas guzzling machines "killing" the planet, one truck at a time...

No comments:

Post a Comment