Monday, March 31, 2008
I spent nearly all my spare time this weekend with my nose buried in Bob Spitz’s book “The Beatles,” which I finally finished. (All 800-plus pages!)
It’s interesting to learn more about the band I thought I already knew so well. I never knew, for example, that Ringo Starr was so sickly as a child, and as a result had little formal education. I also never knew just how strung out John Lennon got, or how much Paul McCartney worked to hold together the Beatles’ empire (in ways that often made him seem controlling and demanding). Spitz clearly isn’t enthralled by Yoko Ono, but drugs were the real villain in the Beatles saga. How could anyone work and maintain a business empire with that much LSD and pot and, in John’s case, heroin coursing through their veins?
I loved learning about individual songs and how they came about - I never knew that “Bungalow Bill,” for example, was written about a pair of American guests at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in India who went off on a hunting safari one day. Fascinating!
Anyway, when I wasn’t reading, I was out exploring. My friend Kate and I went walking through parts of Queens and Brooklyn on Saturday - we ultimately spent about six hours on the hoof, and I have lots of photos to show for it. Then Bob and I went out Saturday and again last night, and I went to the gym.
I skipped the Zendo. I am definitely in a retreat phase in my formal Zen practice. I could say that I’ve had a lot going on, and that’s certainly true, but the real truth is that at the moment, I just don’t feel like practicing much. I’ve been feeling some doubts lately - about whether I’m replacing the distractions of daily life with the distractions of ceremony within the Zendo, for example. Aside from the sitting, which I do believe to be important and effective, isn’t it all - the robes, the incense, the liturgy - just another distraction?
(Photo: Bench at the New York Botanical Garden, March 2008)
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Until this weekend, I’ve been an observer in the world of street art - a watcher, an archivist. Now I’m a participant.
I didn’t make my own art. But I helped out an artist from another part of the country who wanted to get up in New York. I got to know him through Flickr, and offered several months ago to put up a few of his pieces in the Big Apple. He sent me a couple and they sat under my kitchen sink for months as I debated where and how to do it. They began to seem like a huge burden.
Finally, yesterday, I went out and put two of them up in the early morning. Then I put two more up in the afternoon in a different part of the city. I was careful to put them in places where they wouldn't do damage and no one would be angered, yet where they would be seen. I picked popular street art locales.
The act itself was kind of exhilarating, knowing that I was giving the city an artistic boost. (And knowing that what I was doing was technically illegal, even if dozens and dozens of people had done similar things in the same spot already.)
Still, I’m glad it’s done, and I don’t think I’ll offer to do it again. It’s such a relief to have the obligation fulfilled. But as it turns out, when it comes to street art, I would much rather just watch!
(Photo: East Village, March 2008)
Friday, March 28, 2008
As I said yesterday, a reader asked for a quick guide to the rest of my very small art collection. (None of this stuff is very valuable, so if you're tempted to go to the trouble to break into my apartment and steal it, I'd advise against it.)
The print above is called "Triad," by Helen Yaker, c. 1978. I bought it at a flea market in the mid-80s, where it was in a water-damaged frame and mat and looked like it had been through some hard knocks. The print was fine, so I just had it reframed. It reminds me of ocean waves on a stormy night. (I actually contacted Yaker via Google a few years ago and she told me how and when she made this.)
This is a woodblock print by Margaret Orchard, 1972. I bought it unframed at an antique shop in Tampa around 1988. I think it's very maternal.
An American friend of mine in Morocco, Stacy Elko, painted this watercolor view of a saint's tomb near Ait Baha, the town where I lived.
I bought this in Zurich in 2003. It's called "Herbst," or autumn. Signed Martin-Guy, 1982.
This is a pencil drawing by Dale Jarrett, an artist from Kansas. I love its spacious feeling, that immense sky and the suggestion of a landscape at the bottom. I bought it at an art show in 2000.
This is called "Payne's Prairie," after an area near Gainesville, Fla. It's by John Richard Caputo, who studied printmaking at the nearby University of Florida. Dated 1980.
This photo is by Clyde Butcher, a well-known Florida landscape photographer. It's called Cody Island #1. A friend bought it at an art auction for AIDS charities and gave it to me right after I moved to New York in 2000.
And that's it! Sorry for the weird sideways perspectives, but of course all this stuff is framed with glass, so I can't shoot it head-on. You can see it all in context here.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
So here’s the finished product -- Sebastian and Bryce in their frames. Bryce lives in the dining alcove and Sebastian has a place of honor over my bed. They look really great, I think. And as it turns out, I didn’t need to move anything else around, as these walls were already blank -- just waiting.
Someone asked me several weeks ago, when I posted the pictures of my apartment, to talk about all the art. So I took shots of the rest of it, too. But maybe I’ll save that for tomorrow. I think brevity is definitely the secret to a good blog entry!
My boss has been out the past few days, so keeping the office running has been my task. I’ll be glad when she comes back today, if only to have someone else to talk to. People say the mice play when the cat’s away, but really the mice are just bored.
Bob came over last night and we watched “Muriel’s Wedding” -- one of my all-time favorite flicks. I am a devoted fan of Toni Collette and that’s the movie that started it all. If you haven’t seen it, RUN, don’t walk, to your nearest video store, or add it to your Netflix queue immediately!
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Those of you who keep an eye on my Flickr account undoubtedly know these images. They're by the street artist Gaia, and until recently they've been available for viewing only on walls and doors in New York and a few other cities. Then Gaia ran off a limited edition of prints for sale. I couldn't resist buying them, since I've liked his images on the street for so long.
The one above is titled Sebastian. The one below is Bryce.
I took these photos when I dropped the prints off at the frame shop. Last night, I picked up the finished, framed prints and hung them in my apartment, where they seem really HUGE. (They are quite large -- I'm not imagining things.) I'm going to have to reshuffle some of my exising artwork to accommodate them and balance out the room.
Still, I really like them! What do you think?
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
I was thinking the other day about the objectification of the male form, and how we never used to see men’s bodies used in advertising the way we do today. Twenty or thirty years ago ad models were almost all women, with long Farrah hair and glossy lips. It was’t until the ‘90s, I think, when companies like Abercrombie & Fitch discovered a gold mine of advertising potential in attractive young men.
I mean, there was always the Marlboro man, but male models were usually like him -- dignified, rugged and clothed. I’m not sure whether seeing more male skin represents social progress or regression, but we’re definitely seeing more of it today.
Remember the Chippendales? When I was in high school, they were about the only guys I knew of who took their clothes off for commercial purposes. (For those of you unacquainted with the Chippendales, they’re a cheezy dance troupe of muscly male strippers.)
Funny story: When I was a high school senior, my girlfriend went to Spencer Gifts at University Square Mall and bought a deck of cards showing the Chippendales in various states of undress. I remember thinking they weren’t that attractive, all oiled and kind of greasy-looking, but I still wanted a deck of those cards myself. (I’m not sure what was going on in my tangled-up psyche at the time -- girlfriend, Chippendales cards -- but whatever.)
I went in to Spencer’s, picked up the cards and bravely approached the cashier, a woman.
“I think these are the cards my girlfriend wants,” I said, uncertainly. The cashier gave me a knowing look (her brain was saying, “Gay!”) and rang them up.
I kept those cards for a year or two, but like I said, I didn’t really think any of the guys were all that great. Oily men in bow ties and thongs just don’t do it for me. Call me crazy.
(Photo: East Village, March 2008)
Monday, March 24, 2008
Bob and I went to Fifth Avenue yesterday afternoon to see what was left of the Easter Parade. We got there pretty late, so all we could find was this lone dog, named Cookie, dressed in her Easter best. When I asked Cookie's owner if I could take a photo, she insisted on putting Cookie's bonnet on first.
People are so strange.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Saturday, March 22, 2008
I was reading a news report yesterday about a child pornography sting that resulted in a number of arrests. The report came with a video of the accused being walked by the police to a paddywagon, presumably to be taken to jail. The alleged perpetrators were walked past a gaggle of reporters and TV cameras.
Some of the reporters participating in this “perp walk” (as these staged events are known) were shouting things like, “People think you’re the scum of the earth right now. What do you have to say?” They asked the accused if they’d molested family members, and if anyone professed innocence, the reporters pressed on in a tone that suggested they believed otherwise.
One of the people arrested was a 17-year-old kid. He (unwisely) said he’d downloaded the porn, but it had been a mistake.
Now, I am not about to argue on behalf of child porn or its consumers. I’m sure it’s more disgusting than I could imagine.
But this video, and the questions that came from some of these reporters, really angered me. It’s one thing to ask, “Did you do it? Are you guilty? Do you look at child porn?” It’s quite another to ask, “Aren’t you really the scum of the earth? Do you touch your sisters?”
When did my profession, and our society, became so luridly cruel? Why do we enjoy watching public humiliation, verbal stoning? When did we become so averse to compassion, even for those who violate our most basic social codes and morals?
Do the guys in this video deserve punishment? Absolutely. If they’re found guilty -- and they haven’t been yet.
But I don’t think they deserved the treatment they received from those news crews. The reporters need to ask themselves: Are they really reporting the news? Or are they merely whipping their audience into an angry vigilante frenzy? Is it their job to morally judge the people they cover?
Note: I don’t mean to implicate the paper in which this appeared. I have no way of knowing whose reporters were asking these questions.
(Photo: Red Hook, Brooklyn, Feb. 2008)
Friday, March 21, 2008
Most of us have probably thought, at one time or another, that we should have lived in a different generation. Maybe even a different country, continent or culture.
When I was a high school student in the ‘80s, the ‘80s seemed so uncool to me. All the spiky, New Wave hair and pastel clothes were definitely not my thing. I yearned for the ‘60s -- not the wild, acid-fueled ‘60s, necessarily -- but the fun groovy ‘60s that flourished among young people in middle America, fueled partly by the artistic and cultural breakthroughs of the LSD set.
I could never have been a true hippie. I’m way too clean. But I identified with the hippies, or what I knew of them -- the pacifism, the idealism, the energy they gained from opposing The Man. I did the best I could in the ‘80s to follow a similar path, getting involved in both the gay rights movement and the anti-nuclear movement in college. I attended a few protests, organized events, worked on political campaigns.
Paradoxically, I’ve often thought I could have lived quite happily in the 1950s. I admire the cultural cohesion of that time, the prosperity and optimism, not to mention the terrific interior design. Or what about the early 1800s -- a time when my life would have been altogether different, and I’d likely be a small-scale subsistence farmer, like my ancestors, in a much less populated United States?
The flaw with this exercise, of course, is that we only see parts of the whole. When I was a high-school student looking back at the ‘60s, I was seeing the power of a burgeoning youth movement, but I wasn’t seeing the likelihood that I would get drafted and sent to Vietnam. When I look back at the ‘50s, I see that awesome Eames furniture, but forget how suffocating it would have been to be a gay man at that hyper-conformist time. And while I have a bucolic image of farming in the early 1800s, I also know it was hard work -- and God forbid you got sick.
All in all, we’re a product of our time. I could never have been the person I am now in any other generation. A host of factors would have come together to make me entirely different. I think my underlying personality, my way of handling conflict or my enthusiasm for certain interests might have been the same -- but who knows? What is a photographer in a time before a camera?
(Photo: Air conditioner in Brooklyn, Feb. 2008)
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Spring is definitely springing here in New York. The daffodils have been spiking up through the ground for a couple of weeks now in the garden in front of our building, and yesterday I noticed that they’ve formed little yellow buds. So in a few days we should have daffodils in our garden.
When I was walking in Tompkins Square Park in the East Village last weekend, I saw the familiar purple huddles of crocuses amid the muddy thaw.
And of course the temperatures are warmer and the days brighter and longer. I’m still wearing my coat, because it’s a bit on the chilly side, but I don’t even bother to button it up. The scarf hangs limply around my neck. Soon it will be time to pack it away entirely, which is always SUCH a relief. You don’t really realize what an encumbrance a coat is until you don’t have to carry one anymore.
And then there’s the rain -- real, cleansing spring rain. It was raining yesterday morning as I walked to work, and the gutters were running with an irridescent film of oil, carrying all the street filth -- for better or worse -- into the storm drain. Now the city does seem cleaner.
Bring on the spring!
(Photo: Gate near Gramercy Park, March 2008)
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
I went to check out the site of the crane collapse last night. I was curious to see it for myself -- maybe a macabre instinct, but an entirely human one. (Plus, I’m a journalist!) It was very strange, standing on Second Avenue and looking up into someone’s living room, where the wall opened in a gaping yawn.
It’s amazing how we live with certain dangers every day, without even being aware of them.
And speaking of dangers, for a compelling first-hand account of the Atlanta tornado, check out Jes’ blog here.
(Photo: Haculla street art, East Village, March 2008)
Monday, March 17, 2008
Things came crashing down in New York this weekend, both literally and metaphorically. I’m sure you heard about the crane that toppled about 20 blocks north of where I live, shearing the side off an apartment building and smashing a town house to smithereens. And then we had the collapse of Bear Stearns, one of our large investment banks. Shaky times in the big city!
Fortunately, none of this crashing struck me personally, at least not directly. I had a good weekend. I was able to get everything done and also sit a bit, as well as make some headway in the Beatles biography I’m reading. It was terrific to withdraw from the world for a while and just do my own thing. I really needed it.
I went to see a Moroccan movie, “Waiting for Pasolini,” last night with my friend Kelly. She and I served in the Peace Corps in Morocco together, and we enjoyed the movie’s depiction of village life. The movie was filmed near Ouarzazate, which looks a lot different from the part of the country where I lived, near Ait Baha. But all the scenes in the village nonetheless reminded me of my life in Morocco and made me homesick for those two years. It’s an interesting movie, if you have a chance to see it.
(Photo: Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Feb. 2008)
Sunday, March 16, 2008
I came across this in the March issue of Harper's Magazine, and I had to share it with you. It's like something from Monty Python, hilarious and yet with a troubling "Big Brother" aspect.
From a list compiled in 2006 by British police chiefs of more than 5,000 offenses warranting that the DNA of an arrested suspect be retained for life in a national database.
- violating king's wife
- violating king's eldest daughter
- violating wife of king's eldest son and heir
- throwing offensive weapon or matter at sovereign with intent to harm
- levying war against the sovereign in his or her realm
- buggery with woman
- buggery with animal
- buggery with man in private
- buggery with man other than in private
- procuring a woman who is defective
- procuring a woman by false pretences
- abducting unmarried girl under eighteen
- procuring poison to effect miscarriage
- supplying poison to procure miscarriage
- placing nonhuman embryo in a woman
- counseling females to be cirumcised
- riding horse furiously in street
- wantonly disturbing inhabitant by knocking on door or ringing doorbell
- keeping a disorderly house
- obstructing railways
- removing buoys
- theft of wild creatures
- theft of wild flowers
- using explosive to take fish
- discharging stone or missile to kill or take fish
- handling salmon in suspicious circumstances
- cruelty to badgers
- disturbing badger when it is occupying badger lair
- possessing or controlling dead badger
- offering prizes to forecast result of future events
- opening an incorrectly delivered postal packet
- fraudulently evading bingo duty
- falsely pretending to be a deserter
- abstracting electricity
- failure to remove disguise when required by constable
- wasting police time
(Photo: King Kong mural, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Feb. 2008)
Saturday, March 15, 2008
I feel so out of sorts this weekend. I think it’s partly carryover from the excesses of the week -- my mind feels like a lake in a storm, rather than the legendary placid lake of Zen. I need to step back and retreat for a while.
Of course, this weekend is a retreat at the Zendo. But I’m not going today because I have some work-related stuff that needs to be finished. I’m also feeling some resistance toward attending a big, organized retreat with services, etc. What I’d really like is something like the Zendo’s monthly “just sitting” period, which is unstructured time on the cushion. My mind is hungry for that unbroken stretch of quiet. I’ll see if I can’t sit like that a bit at home.
Don’t you get sick of me whining about how busy and tired I am? Sorry about that. I’m actually not nearly as busy or tired as your average physician or teacher, I’m sure!
Bob and I saw an interesting movie last night: Gus Van Sant’s latest, called “Paranoid Park.” It was about some teenage skateboarders, and the film made amazing use of the ballet of skateboarding, with beautiful slow-motion footage of the swoops and jumps. The cinematography and use of music were interesting, as was the plot, though with all the reliance on photography the story moves slowly. I like slow, arty movies, so this was just right up my alley.
Funny how skateboarding is almost entirely a male pursuit, isn’t it? I mean, there are girls hanging around the skaters, but you don’t often see girls on boards. Why is that?
(Photo: Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Feb. 2008)
Friday, March 14, 2008
I went on Wednesday to the annual New York fundraiser of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, which this year was held at the new headquarters of my employer. We started with a cocktail reception and then had dinner, followed by an unofficial afterparty at which I drank too much and stayed too long. I got home sometime in the wee hours of the morning - I’m not even sure when - and somehow struggled through a workday yesterday. I was so happy to be able to go to sleep last night!
Some photos from the event are at my friend Kenneth’s blog, featuring some of our special celebrity guests, as well as yours truly. I didn’t talk to, or even see, many of the celebrities. I was too busy yakking with friends, I guess. (Kenneth, on the other hand, is a celebrity magnet.) I did have a chance to tell Judy Shepard, Matt's mother, how glad I was that she could attend.
It was a lot of fun to catch up with friends and acquaintances I haven't seen in ages -- even the ones I didn't have a chance to talk to, but just spotted across the room. Nice to know everyone is still out there and apparently doing well!
(Photo: Red Hook, Brooklyn, Feb. 2008)
Thursday, March 13, 2008
I found this curious piece of street art a couple of weeks ago. No one seems to know what it means. At first I thought it had something to do with Sinclair Oil, which has long had a dinosaur as a trademark.
Now, I'm thinking it's about extinction. A subtle reminder that it can happen to anyone or anything, even the most dominant creatures on the planet.
I'd be interested in your interpretations!
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
One of my blog commenters recently mentioned Gary Thorp’s terrific book, “Sweeping changes.” It’s a Zen guide to housework, basically - how to be mindful and experience housework as an aspect of practice.
I’ve always liked housekeeping. I like washing my dishes by hand, feeling the soapy warm water; I like sweeping, which despite great frequency usually produces a ball of cat hair resembling a new small animal; I like dusting.
Among other things, Thorp reminds readers that all of these tasks are an opportunity to really connect with and enjoy your possessions:
“Use the time you dust to enhance your sense of touch. You can experience a feeling of intimacy with the things in your environment by caressing the objects before you, becoming familiar with their shapes once again, and remembering how they came into your life. As with sweeping, make sure that you give your full attention to those areas that would be easy for you to hurry over or abandon entirely. The idea is not to go over or around things, but to go into them.”
I thought of this passage this morning, actually, as I was making coffee. I thought briefly about my coffee maker. It was a gift from this person, in 1994, and it’s been incredibly reliable. When I think about how much coffee it’s made - nearly every morning for 14 years - it blows my mind! And it’s still going strong! (It’s a Braun.)
My toaster is another wonder. When I was in college, I bought an old ‘50s toaster at a thrift store in Tampa. It weighed about five pounds, a heavy metal thing with deco styling. I think it cost $2.50. Anyway, it’s still plugging away, and I make toast just about every day (toast greatly elevates the value of peanut butter). That toaster is probably the best investment I ever made.
I think this is part of what Thorp meant about possessions - thinking about them, experiencing their connections, enriches everyday life immeasurably. Everything in our houses tells a story.
(Photo: Red Hook, Brooklyn, Feb. 2008)
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Have you ever had that mentally blocked feeling, when your mind is buzzing but you can't sit down and organize your thoughts long enough to produce a coherent narrative? Well, that's been me this week. I've been busy, but the buzz is more than mere busyness - it's also an overarching sense of recalcitrance. Like, I'm sick of thinking. Don't make me think anymore.
Fortunately, I finally have a chance today to back away from the work week, return to my cushion, and relax with the blog - with the cat on my lap, of course.
So what's going on? Well, lots of work stuff. Continuing changes on the job. Nothing bad, necessarily, but certainly some new challenges. I have several different projects in the air.
Fortunately, I've had some fun, too. My friend Bob and I went to the Museum of Modern Art yesterday to see their new exhibit on color - interesting stuff, because of course MoMA never disappoints. We had planned to go up to the Bronx to see the orchid show at the botanical garden with Brian, but the weather was hideously rainy, so we decided to stay close to home instead. We'll do the orchids another week.
Today, on the other hand, is brilliantly blue and cold. I went walking this morning and took some photos in Chinatown and down by the Brooklyn Banks, as the area under the Brooklyn Bridge is known. (Popular skateboarding territory, and lots of street art.)
And I'm psyched because I have reservations to visit Palm Springs early next month with my friends Christopher and Jerry. I'll fly to LA and then we'll drive to PS for a few days. I can't wait!
(Photo: Fence in Red Hook, Brooklyn, Feb. 2008)
Saturday, March 8, 2008
I went walking with a friend through the plaza at Rockefeller Center last night, where we saw "Electric Fountain," an installation by British artists Tim Noble and Sue Webster. The project was inspired by Rockefeller Center, where it will be on display until April 5.
From the program:
Electric Fountain represents Noble & Webster's modern take on the world's oldest form of public art, the fountain. It simultaneously references iconic pop culture symbols, such as marquee signs in Las Vegas and Times Square, and historical fountains built in civic spaces, such as Bernini's Triton Fountain. A monument for the 21st century, Electric Fountain is a celebration of the spectacle, excess, beauty and desire of contemporary culture and a provocative comment on the nature of consumer society, a theme often present in Noble & Webster's work.
"Electric Fountain mimics the tradition of a fountain as a monument found in public squares around the world, but its magic lies in the emulation of light where water should be," said artist Sue Webster. "During daylight hours the viewer will really get a sense of Electric Fountain's architectural and sculptural qualities as the lights react with the changing moods of New York City's daily weather conditions. As nighttime falls, the sculptural form will slowly disappear into the darkness leaving only the illusion of bright cascading water in its wake."
Thursday, March 6, 2008
My posting may get a little sparse over the next week or so - I'm once again getting into an unusually busy time. Of course, I've said that before and then kept right on posting. So who knows.
As I lie in bed I hear a lot of helicopters in the air. Apparently there's been some sort of small explosion in front of the military recruiting station in Times Square, and some of the streets and subways have been shut down. Drama!
(Photo: Brooklyn, Feb. 2008)
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Today, just for fun, I’m taking a cue from Reya, who was recently tagged with this meme. I generally don’t tag people myself, but if you’re interested in trying it, feel free!
1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.
Their encounters were anything but intimate. “Although George delivered meat to our house on his bicycle, I didn’t really know him,” Bramwell admits. “But I discovered, some time later, that he was getting all my records from a classmate named Maurice Daniels, who was a drummer in a dance band and had borrowed them from me to rehearse with each week.”
--from “The Beatles,” by Bob Spitz.
(Photo: Sixth Avenue triplets, Feb. 2008)
Monday, March 3, 2008
I ended up spending most of yesterday at the Zendo, practicing in the morning and attending a steering committee meeting in the afternoon.
It’s funny -- when I first went to the Zendo, four years ago, Zen felt very easy to me. I quite confidently felt that I had a natural affinity for it -- that I understood it and was already somewhat in touch with my Buddha nature. But over time, my confidence in practice has gradually diminished. Now I often feel like I’m wandering in the wilderness. I guess that’s a step forward!
Oh, and I did finally have a chance to rest up. I had a terrific dinner and evening with a good friend, and then went to sleep at 9:30 p.m. Whew!
(Photo: Alfred Hitchcock in the East Village, Feb. 2008)
Sunday, March 2, 2008
Well, my "day of rest" yesterday turned into a day of errands. Nothing very exciting: I cleaned my house, went to the gym, got a new watchband, bought cereal, bought a Beatles CD ("Beatles for Sale," from 1964).
Last night I went to see "The Buddha Play" with some friends from the Zendo. It was quite poetic, and certainly conveyed the simple beauty of the Buddha's philosophy. I found myself letting go even as I watched, settling once again into the simplicity of practice. Unfortunately, I was also so tired that I struggled to stay awake toward the end - no fault of the production itself.
(Photo: Shadows from the Pierre Hotel on the building next door, Feb. 2008)
Saturday, March 1, 2008
This has been a very busy week. I haven't spent an evening at home since Monday, making me feel like a neglectful cat owner. (Not that the cat seems to mind. She's lying here next to me, grooming away, apparently oblivious.)
The white spot in the photo above, by the way, is not the moon. It's a spotlight inside the glass building. But it looks very lunar, doesn't it? That's the spire of the Empire State Building directly below the light, peeking through the sections of the large building in front.
Thursday's Tibet event got me thinking about nationalism. I've never understood why China is so persistent in clinging to Tibet, a harsh country where - to hear the panelists tell it on Thursday - the Chinese can't even live because they're not adapted to the altitude. I've never understood Serbia's insistence on maintaining control over Kosovo, either.
It seems to me that if a majority of people in a given area chafe against the government and want to secede, and it's an area of modest material value to the national economy, little would be lost by letting it go. Why shouldn't Kosovo and Tibet be independent nations? Or Chechnya for that matter? You'd think the central governments of China, Serbia and Russia would be happy to be rid of them.
This probably reflects stunning naivete on my part - and I'm aware of complicating factors, such as intermingled ethnic groups, not to mention our own Civil War history - but overall I just don't get it.
I saw "No Country for Old Men" last night. An excellent movie! Bloody, but it kept me riveted throughout. Javier Bardem is great, and so are Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones. The movie ends rather abruptly, I thought, but I guess that's part of the mystique.
Anyway, I am looking forward to today. I plan to go to the gym, relax and read, and clean my apartment. Tonight I'm off to the theater again, but at least I'll be well-rested!
(Photo: Herald Square, Feb. 2008)