Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hot Town, Hot Water

Sitting in LaGuardia, going to Lake Superior, my spiritual center for a few precious days.

What care I if the weather is in the sixties and thunder-stormy?
Weather is simply a form of expression that the lake takes on.

Too early in the morning for Rod Stewart's whining on the airport sound system.
It's not even 9AM. My airport magazine choice is The Atlantic magazine:

The future of college, apparently, is in organisms like "Minerva" which isn't an online school, well,
except for the fact that the students (small classes of up to nineteen) all sit at computers and the professors are far away on their own, obviously not an online school...
other than that, it's much less expensive than many colleges at only $28,000 per year...

Am I one?

Does worrying about a future with mass extinctions, global drought, dying trash-filled oceans,
poisoned water and storms you never dreamed of in your worst nightmare make me a
"climate hysteric?"

Just wondering. I'll let you know.

Hmmm, are there climate hysterics on Vice News?

Here in the airport, Steppenwolf is singing "Magic Carpet Ride."
Soon mine will deliver me to the shining big sea waters.

In the meantime, I'll mull over the last month or so.
I've been blog-slacking!
Don't know if there's a better term for that - maybe slogging? - but it's summer and I've been, um, busy. 
Mostly I've been in NYC, but not all the time - here are just a few highlights.
 Get ready for some amazing sights!

A rose grows in Brooklyn, and is left alone by the ravaging masses.
Miracle of miracles!
Below, this Park Slope tree seems to have been peed on by a very large creature with
thick milky, um...secretions.
Or is it art?

Speaking of Park Slope art... 200 Seventh Avenue are the latest incarnations of Mark Ravitz's drip sculptures,
with shimmery pigeons and his signature drips.

Ravitz owns the building and uses it as a kind of gallery for his recent work. 
He also designs sets for the likes of David Bowie and Kiss.

Even closer to home is this moody, enigmatic picture of the area between our kitchen and living room, which is a space of about four square feet: 
a shadow created by the former treadle sewing machine that we now use to hold our garbage can.

More Brooklyn linearity is created by my computer - all by itself it 
joins slices of these pictures of the B/Q station in Brighton Beach.

 And speaking of sculpture, here in another part of Brooklyn are huge shrooms and ladybugs!

Summer fun is crammed onto the streets of Williamsburg.

A few blocks away, what seems to be a better spot for the carnival 
is filled instead with industrial this and that.

Some mysterious W-burg graffiti:

Less mysterious is this scary Jack from The Shining.
I could never watch that movie the whole way through.
I didn't want his absurdly evil smile scarring my brain.

I'm in Williamsburg to check on the American Abstract Artist exhibition honoring Leo
because there was some trouble with my dvd player, so I brought another one
to replace it and found subsequently that the problem was a tiny switch (nearly invisible) had been tripped, or untripped, so small that only
a ten-year-old could find it, and what would a ten-year-old be doing
with a dvd player which is going the way of 8-track tapes and wind-up Victrolas?

Why have I not updated to an iPad on the wall for display purposes or some such device?
I pay for my old-fashionedness by having to make this emergency trip,
but it's not a waste of time because Williamsburg could hardly be more fun!

Sideshow Gallery, above,
and the South 4th Bar, below, where I go to hang out with Jacob Tomsky who has just returned from an adventure in Africa because, well, why not? He is also the brains behind the book club called Short Story Thursdays, and also the smart, funny, brash book called
full of engaging characters, memorable cursing and ruthlessly funny honesty about the hotel business.

After that, I trip over to DUMBO to check out the goats, yes, the goats
that are grazing there for a time, courtesy of the Brooklyn Grange.

I see a gorgeous bride and handsome groom...

...and finally find the pasture, which is growing a healthy crop of crimson clover.

The Atlantic article about climate hysterics quotes a book by Bill McKibbon 
(apparently one of the said hysterics)
who says that what the world needs now is not love-sweet-love
but lots of small, careful farmers who will be able to react to the coming
environmental nightmares with "care and grace." And with food.

(Hmm, but wouldn't that make the targets for roaming bands of starving folk
who will lay waste to their small holdings, gobble up all the food and subsequently descend into
cannibalism a la The Road which was one of the creepiest movies ever, 
beating out The Shining hands down...

(internet photo of cannibals from The Road)

...based on the seriously horrifying book by that cheery fellow Cormac McCarthy.
Or am I getting a little hysterical here?)

Onward and upward - here I am at the Pasture,
an amazing example of small careful farming full of care and grace!

But where are the goats?

Oh, no! I'm too late!
The goats have left the pasture.
Have the starving masses run away with them?
(Just a joke. We're not to that stage yet.)
Apparently the goats graced this field of dreams for only six hours.
 I missed the DUMBO goat window
by hanging around too long sipping wine with writing folk in Williamsburg!

(internet picture)

Here's what I missed! As it turns out, these goats will not go for slaughter as most goats do,
they will be housed on an educational farm for the duration of their goaty lives.
And the pasture will not remain pasture-ized but is instead the future site of a mega-condo structure.

Such is life in the city, full of paradox and wonder that is often as fleeting as the life span
of a crimson clover.
I turn my wondering eyes away from goats
 to a shimmery taxidermied deer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

And a huge Buddha of Medicine that I stare at for a long time -
it does seem to have a healing demeanor.

At the Neue Museum a few blocks north of the Met,
a less healing image is of
Hitler and his minions as they peer (and leer) at "degenerate" art
and deem it unfit for the healthy young German minds
that he is teaching to kill and torture.

Like this one: "Eternal Wanderers" by Lasar Segall, the son of a Torah scribe whose
work dealt with the subjects of humans suffering and persecution,
apparently not appropriate for Nazis bent on perpetuating same.

Now, leaping downtown to SoHo,
the warm summer sun falls on the buildings of Greene Street.

And also on the streets.

It's a day when Manhattan-henge is in evidence (the setting sun streaming down the avenues of the city)
which we see only tangentially as we're engaged in a lovely dinner with friends.

And here the sun sets in Brighton Beach where Frank and I spend a fabulous half-hour
in the ocean after I finish my afternoon drawing class at Kingsborough,
 just down the beach.

Fun waves!

Speaking of beaches, we spend a few July days at Frank's family lake house
in Rhode Island.
The sun may not be out, but it's a pleasure nonetheless.

Frank plays an intense game of chess with his niece Mary at our Fourth of July event...

And Aaron knows how to kick back while watching soccer.

After an all too short visit, we must leave the gorgeous lake
(where there were virtually no weeds this year, as opposed to
other years with massive infestations of the awful bladderwort).

 The lake in 2011, above and below.

Our last view, 2014.

Back in NYC, I visit a less pleasant body of water, the 
still-nasty Gowanus Canal, which is too toxic to support much of a weed population.
No bladderwort here.

I was there to visit the Gowanus Ballroom to see "Spectrum" by Colin Bowring
and William Tucci, but alas, the lights were not on;
apparently the artists had left the building. 
So instead of seeing this:

(pics from the press release for "Spectrum")

I saw only this:

The ballroom is in a large building that is also a metal fabricating business
where I was assisted in my quest to see art by Adrian Landon...

(photo from

...who is welding together a wondrous creature,
a metal horse with moving parts.

This horse will be in the Hampton Classic Horse Show, South Hampton, Long Island,
during the Labor Day weekend.

Back outside, the Gowanus Canal looks better from a distance.

I actually like industrial landscapes. 

Above, view from the F/G Smith Street Station in Brooklyn,
below, Railroad Street in Duluth, Minnesota with its grain elevators.

With some careful planning, industrial parks can be less detrimental to the environment
than, say, suburbs that eat up so much land and habitat with their often toxic yards, 
or huge fields of monoculture crops with their massive amounts of herbicides and pesticides 
that drain into rivers and streams
and turn our waters green and poisonous.
Like the city of Toledo recently that couldn't drink the water because of a massive toxic 
algae bloom on Lake Erie, seen below.

(internet photos)

Arrghhh! What a nightmare we have created!

So, anyway, I go from this: this...

(the view over Lake Superior in Duluth)

...and we fly over Minneapolis which has some pretty nasty looking ponds, too,
full of bright green algae, the fate of many bodies of water in cities.

Finally in Duluth, ensconced in our Park Point rental, 
Sherry, Brett and I walk through the back yard...

...past the old beach chair... the big lake...

...Lake Superior, Kitchee Gumi, which is usually pristine, almost drinkable, and not green.
But today even it has some issues.

The beach is filled with driftwood and detritus from some far off burnt forest...

...and the waves bring in tiny fragments of burnt wood that make the water
dark and ominous-looking, and the bottom of the lake is covered with murk and mush.

We hope that the water will clear so we can swim, which we love to do in spite of the
frigide temps of the big lake.
I consider it my yearly baptism.
Stay tuned for the next episode from the climate hysteric!

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