Friday, May 27, 2005
Celtic Tree Month of Hawthorn
Cloudy and cool
The sun teased us earlier this morning, hinting it might be coaxed out. But now, it’s hiding again and it looks like rain. Oh, well.
Ashes and Snow is an amazing exhibit. It closes here next week and begins a tour. If you are anywhere within a three day drive of an exhibit, don’t miss it. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience:
The pier itself was transformed into “The Nomadic Museum” – built out of recycled materials and railroad car-sized packing crates. Going in there is like entering a temple – it’s hushed and dark, with exquisitely designed lighting. The exhibit offers something for four of the five senses – the only sense left unsatisfied is that of taste.
The photographs themselves are stunning. Gregory Colbert spent thirteen years of his life, as he puts it “collaborating” with the animals photographed and filmed. The result is astonishing. There’s also a one-hour film of the work. The section with the elephants and the whales is both beautiful and playful. The elephants, in particular, enjoy the interaction with the dancers. There’s a connection and synchronicity there. Elephants move gracefully anyway, and to see them within the context of the piece is truly wonderful. And the falcon with the temple dancer – wow. Again, the bird responds to the present moment. The cheetahs exuded tolerance. Whereas the elephants were eager to be involved, the cheetahs allowed the human members of the project to share space, and there was no question about who was in charge – and who had the power. The most disturbing was the interaction with the hyenas. It was frightening, because, of course, the hyenas tried to figure out how to take down the performer. They didn’t succeed, but there was always the sense of conflict rather than harmony.
Because the space was large, created over the Hudson River and cold, there were sections of seating with heat lamps over them, where one could replenish in order to experience more.
Watching the whale section makes me wonder how to handle the viewpoint of the whale in the whaling saga. No, I’m not going to write sections from the whale’s point of view. But these are magnificent creatures and whaling is a brutal business. How do I show that brutality without losing all feeling for my protagonists? Because I don’t want to celebrate or romanticize the murder of whales – not because of politics, but because I don’t think whaling is romantic. I will have to remember the sequences from this exhibit during the writing.
It won’t be difficult. The exhibit will stay with me for a long, long time.
After taking the exhibit in with body and soul, my friend and I walked a couple of blocks to try a new local hangout, called The Brass Monkey (http://www.brassmonkeybar.com). It’s in the style of a local pub, but the food is very good, the service is outstanding, it’s large and nice without being fake. While it caters to the influx of clubbers, etc. on weekends, during the week and earlier in the day, it aims to be a place where the neighbors can come in, relax, and catch up. I had a beer and a lovely shepherd’s pie, and my friend had bangers and mash. They told us to relax and stay out of the rain as long as we liked. If you’re down in the Meatpacking District or the West Village, visit The Brass Monkey. It’s worth it.
Walking east from the bar, we were stopped by a club owner who wants to open a new, upscale restaurant a block down from his current establishment. He needs 400 signatures from the neighborhood in order to get his permits. My friend, who lives in the neighborhood, asked him several pointed questions. And he tried to b.s. her. He wasn’t even very good at it. And, since his current place has downgraded the quality of life instead of adding to it, she refused to sign. Good for her. It’s one thing for an establishment to need to bring in a crowd to survive, but works to build a strong relationship with the people who live in the neighborhood. This place hasn’t shown any regard for the locals, in fact, the opposite, which is why the Community Board demanded community support for an additional establishment by the same people.
It was nice to only be in Manhattan to do something fun and then come back home.
Much to my delight, six of my Cape Cod books arrived: Common Ground, A Naturalist’s Cape Cod by Robert Finch; A Geologist’s View of Cape Cod by Arthur N. Strahler; Bird Friends of Scorton: Nature Notes on Cape Cod by Elinor W. Hills; My Own Cape Cod by Gladys Taber; Pleasant Past Times, a low-print-run family history by Gertrude Livingston Kittredge Eaton; Wildflowers of Cape Cod by Harold R. Hinds and Wilfred A. Hathaway.
I can’t wait to dive into them.
But now, I have to dive back into the writing.
For a free issue of any of the above serials, click the appropriate link and download.