Thursday, July 10, 2014

concerts in the parks

Yesterday, Ilene and I found an orchestral concert in Prospect Park - by chance, as one does. It was the New York Philharmonic playing Strauss and Tchaikovsky as the sunset turned to dusk turned to night. We found a spot on the grass to the side where we could stretch out - close enough to see the wrist twitches of the violins, which is important to me. I loved how quiet the crowd was, watching the sky, listening so carefully to the harp solo, the muted strings at one point, the woodwind swells at another. There were at least a thousand people, possibly a lot more.

It was the first of a short series of free park concerts happening now - the remaining schedule is as follows:

Pieces by Strauss, Smetana, and Tchaikovsky

Thursday July 10 (today), 8 PM, Cunningham Park, Queens
Friday July 11, 8 PM, Great Lawn, Central Park

Pieces by Nielsen, Bruch, Grieg, and Liszt

Monday July 14, 8 PM, Great Lawn, Central Park
Tuesday July 15, 8 PM, Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx

There is also an indoor concert (program TBA) scheduled for Sunday July 13 (3 PM) at the Center for the Arts at CUNY Staten Island.


Images of decorated staircases in Tehran and Morlaix (France) found here.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

ample hills

Whenever I ride my bike up Vanderbilt Avenue to the park - EVERY time - I think of the Ample Hills line from Crossing the Brooklyn Ferry. Oh, the ample (painful) hills of Brooklyn! Then I think of ice cream.

Do you live in Brooklyn, love Brooklyn? Do you love New York? Whatever the case, read the poem today. It was written for you.

And thank you, dear Lizzie, for making me read it awhile back! (also for the bike!) Basically, this post was ghost-written by you.

photograph by André Kertész, 1964

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


Have you seen Martin Provost's Violette? No? GO! Right now, tonight, don't wait.

We saw it last night at Village East, though not in the main theater, which is beautiful. I go to VE on Tuesdays for the student discount ($7 and free popcorn!) and the nice foreign selection.

But Violette. I loved every bit though it was long, and I loved her (the character) though not everyone did (we could all agree Emmanuelle Devos was phenomenal, however) and though she was difficult. I loved Sandrine Kiberlain as Simone de Beauvoir, and all of the small, sublime details spread throughout: feet in a wash basin, sun slowly coloring a face or a ceiling, the clumsy, determined way she walked. And I thought the screenplay (and the translation) was good. All very good. All very worth our whiles.

Because I enjoy caricatures (of myself), I went home and re-read the introduction to The Second Sex. Wonderful. And then, to take it further, this morning on the train I read the beginning of A Room of One's Own. Which I had bought yesterday because it winked at me as I was passing the sidewalk booksellers on West 4th. That was before Violette, before I was consciously (intentionally, maybe) thinking about the condition of being a woman and a writer, both of those things together. Because I like to go to movies without knowing much about them, which doesn't always end well (sorry, Lizzie!) (The Immigrant) (don't go), and sometimes ends magically (We Are The Best) (fantastic) (go!).

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

after some time away

Some inspiration for Sofy, from the journal (April 2014):

I challenged myself today, tonight rather, when I came home. As I stood in the elevator thinking about unfinished thoughts and the need to finish something (a thought), polish it, (or was it in the train I was thinking that, or possibly the platform, yes, the platform), I determined that when I opened my door, after being greeted by Nola (cat), I would not waste time the way I usually do, lingering, languishing, spreading myself around the apartment, on the sofa or bed, flicking through my phone, lazing on the internet, doing nothing of worth (any), not even nothing at all (which is worth something, a lot really). Instead, I would turn the kettle on, put my clothes away, the ones I had tossed around before I left, but also the ones I was wearing. Turn on the reading lamp, maybe the radio, clear the floor, close the drawers, wash my face (thoroughly, with the cloth), and here I am.

And another passage (March 2014) on returning:

A great comfort, to be oneself, to return there after some time away.

photograph of my mother, taken when she was younger than I am

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

take, for instance

Last Friday, I left my apartment for the first time in a week -- bedridden with the flu even though I had the shot! Be warned. I went to the Met and saw the Charles Marville exhibit, which Alex discussed beautifully, and the accompanying "Paris as Muse" curation. I'd been reading Invisible Cities, which I can't recommend more as a pairing for those photographs and the urbanist treatise they represent. Certainly easier to carry around than The Arcades Project, at least. I always forget that Paris is quite new when I'm there or when I'm thinking of it from here.

The Met is open until 9 on Fridays and Saturdays, and it's become a favorite place to take myself for a look and a drink. Here are some small thoughts from that day:

Luxury is actually a quite simple thing. Take, for instance, the seventeen dollar chardonnay right here (a glass!) next to my computer when you don't want to know what I have in the bank for the month. And what about the pear in my bag, a few dollars to spend on a soda outside on the steps, the weather mild enough to find a bench in the park, a sunny slope with a tree. And then the table at the restaurant (not the café, not the bar), the laptop out, the Calvino neatly to the side. Luxury defined, thrown into relief, by tea and toast this morning, the colorless cotton of a sweater, hair plainly arranged and just washed, the hygiene of everything.

The restaurant, with its wall of glass doors overlooking the lawn and the obelisk (now under restoration) in the distance, with its "Torso of Chained Action" here before my table, a womanly form next to this vista of blossomed trees and bare and budding ones, is a good place to watch the sunset. Here the sun dips into tangled branches and thick hanging clouds while the robins on the lawn peck around for seed.

image from

Friday, April 18, 2014

our undulating selves

Following a conversation with Rosa a year ago:

Tonight we talked about diaries, and she made a point about self-conscious writing which we of course have all experienced. But she said that as a young person, to keep a diary, a real record, is very brave because one is always aware of the possibility that it could be read and self-conscious and circumspect as a result.

We're never really ourselves when we cast our identity into permanence. I think partly at least, the inauthenticity of the permanent impression is a result of how fluid our personalities are, our undulating selves. We can never perfectly capture the confluence of selves that arrive at one moment because that moment is bleeding into another with its own set of selves and being bled into by yet another. Like how I always feel uglier in photographs, my face requiring animation to be explained.

Wallpaper by Gia Coppola (remember this?)

Monday, April 14, 2014

blood moon

Blood moon tonight, guys! I'd never heard of a blood moon, and then Tom told me just now that it's tonight, and now I know what it is and am incredibly excited. It's at 3 AM, that's the catch. But worth it, obviously, even if you're not already up at that time writing a paper like I will be.

Normally, when the moon is particularly beautiful or strange-looking, I'll call the first two or three people I think of and tell them to look at it. A habit I picked up from my mama and Ms. Zee, moon-gazing women. But tonight, I'm telling all of you this way so you can prepare.

For New Yorkers, the positioning of this special eclipse will begin at 12:53 and peak at 3:07. I really don't know what to expect, but I think the power of the moon, beyond its tide-pulling and wolf-baiting, is largely what you make of it. I use it when I need it and when I remember.

What will you do with the moon tonight? Have a moon bath? Or a reading of The Distance of the Moon from Calvino's Cosmicomics? It's beautiful, by the way. Also, while we're doing this: one of my favorite places to go for inspiration (moon-related and otherwise):

Happy blood moon to you all!

image credit?