Sunday, April 26, 2020

What Day Is It? What Day Is It?

Do you find yourself asking your significant other or yourself, “What day is it, what day is it?”  It is an interesting phenomenon that when we have no rhythm to our day, we become disoriented.  This morning I had a simple internet problem and couldn’t remember how to fix it until I stopped thinking about it.

We have been “sequestered”:  Standard dictionary example: “The jurors were sequestered under guard for the remainder of the trial.”  We are not under guard, but we have been sequestered by the governor acting as judge of our situation.  Intellectually I know it is for the best and I thank her for her good judgment, but who wants to be told you need to, nay you have to stay home?  We are not very good in this country about caring for “the greater good”.  It somehow goes against our idea of freedom.

I have heard from some in New York City that they can’t go out because there are so many people in the street. From others, I hear that they go out after dinner when, as David Remnick wrote in the New Yorker, “The streets of New York City are so desolate now that you half expect tumbleweed to blow along the pavement where cars and cabs once clustered.”

My wife and I are so lucky.  We live in a wonderful place, in a nice house on an arroyo (dry riverbed) where there are few people. (Every once in a while, you wave to someone also walking there).  I much rather be here than in a city where there is little chance of escape.  Can you imagine being in an apartment complex where you know someone has caught the Covid-19?

Still, I find it very trying as I have found many people do.  People need people.  Remember this song from the Broadway show, “Funny Girl”. 

It is perfectly natural to interact with the person you live with but sometimes you don’t want to be asked “what are you working on?”, “May I interrupt?” or “Where are you going?”  If she/he closes their door ...  What secrets are they keeping from me? Something you might never think normally but suddenly the door closed … oh, it is just because someone was listening to something at a high volume and did not wish to disturb … feel pretty foolish?  All because we are being asked to stay in place.

In our home, my wife and I have an office, our own space.  So why do I have an office in town, as well? … For several reasons.  Frankly, I need to get out of the house.  I need a routine and someplace to go to, as I have always done.  It used to be a gallery now it’s a small office. When my wife used to travel for work, and I was home alone I would go to a restaurant just to see other people.   My in-town office allows me to walk around and interact with people.  Down the corridor are the offices of a number of independent professionals. As most of us keep our doors open there is informal communication that has led to easy friendships. 

James J. Cramer, whose daily television shows cover the stock market, recently took a day off from the shows that he now does remotely.  The next morning, he said he would never do that again because he had received so many emails starting out, “Are you O.K.?”.  I have written just that to a lot of people, recently.  It is a genuinely nice thought, but I can understand getting tired of it when you here the same thing from hundreds of people.

I felt ridiculous finding myself crying at the drop of a hat but then I discovered I was not alone.  Other people are also having trouble keeping a sleep schedule or just not sleeping.  Many have become nervous wrecks and don’t know why.  Even my vitamin company sent me this when I ordered CBD!

Try as we may to reassure ourselves, we are not really O.K. This missive was written so that we can all realize that we are not alone.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Some of The Best Ones!

Same as you we have been receiving many humorous pieces in order to take us out of our upset and depression over the circumstances that we all find ourselves in.  I thought I would post a few, some of which you may not have even seen.  I can promise you that none of them are political in nature … that would be a whole different Missive ... maybe next time!

Most of these will be links but here is one in print from a former Museum Director:
My Self-Isolation Quarantine Diary:
  • Day 1: I Can Do This! Got enough food and wine to last a month!
  • Day 2: Opening my 8th bottle of wine. I fear wine supplies might not last.
  • Day 3: Strawberries - some have 210 seeds; some have 235 seeds. Who Knew??
  • Day 4: 8pm - removed my Day Pajamas and put on my Night Pajamas.
  • Day 5: Today, I tried to make Hand Sanitizer. It came out as Jello Shots!!
  • Day 6: I get to take the Garbage out. I’m so excited, I can’t decide what to wear.
  • Day 7: Laughing way too much at my own jokes!!
  • Day 8: Went to a new restaurant called “The Kitchen”. You have to gather all the ingredients and make your own meal. I have NO clue how this place is still in business.
  • Day 9: I put liquor bottles in every room. Tonight, I’m getting dressed up and going Bar hopping.
  • Day 10: Struck up a conversation with a Spider today. Seems nice. He’s a Web Designer.
  • Day 11: Isolation is hard. I swear my fridge just said, “ What the hell do you want now?”
  • Day 12: I realized why dogs get so excited about something moving outside, going for walks, or car rides. I think I just barked at a squirrel.
  • Day 13: If you keep a glass of wine in each hand, you can’t accidentally touch your face.
  • Day 14: Watched birds fight over a worm. The Cardinals led the Blue Jays 3-1.

I think Day 9 might be the most fun!  Since we are on the subject of staying home, this one was one of my favorites but beware it is not for sensitive ears!

The Getty project: That wonderful museum that peers down on Los Angeles from its Brentwood mountaintop asked individuals to use what supplies they had at home to recreate a famous painting.  Which is your favorite?  Scroll down to the images:

Since the economy is on everybody’s mind as well.  Here is a lesson in economics under a number of regimes.   I used to belong to The Art Dealers Association which was founded by a lawyer.  He would frequently look at the dealers and say, “You dealers always get your legal information from your accountants” which was not untrue. This lesson in economics, our lawyer recently sent, is the reverse.

If you are a musical family or maybe if you just love musicals, you might try what this British family did.  Take a favorite song, in this case, one themed on Les Miserables and come up with the appropriate words for the current situation.  There have been a bunch of these adaptations, but I really loved this one, though that maybe because I love the original.

I will end with one that is so heartwarming while being humorous as well.  The 18-month old grandson of Zubin Mehta, the renowned conductor who is soon retiring, is captured as he watches grandpa on TV.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

So What ?!

So what?! Your local museum has closed, the Louvre is closed; you cannot travel anyway and you can find any work of art you are looking for online.  What is the difference, does it matter?

I have given a lot of thought to that question recently and have come up with a few answers.  Please let me know what you come up with.  On the most basic level the museum was a place to go to relax, contemplate and pray for a transcendent experience in front of a work of art.

For many years we collected photography, these were works of art and quite different from just making a print off of the computer.  Why?  Because, as anyone who has worked in a dark room or learned the history of photography knows, there are many methods of printing on many different kinds of photo paper.  Printing is an interpretation of an image and one even can tell a heavier or lighter hand.

In my case, I did not fall in love with Ansel Adams original concept of “Moon Rise, Hernandez, New Mexico” but his later version which he printed with stark contrast when the image became so popular and this was easier than doing the dodging under the enlarger that was necessary for the original. Only through seeing original prints done by Adams in an exhibition at the Andrew Smith gallery when he was in Santa Fe did I come to appreciate his changing perspective on his original vision.  Here is an image of Adams and the image as it came out of the camera and a later print.

Anyone, lucky enough to have been to the Frick Collection in New York City probably remembers not only the art, but also the center court with its large skylight and beautiful fountain where you can sit on one of the benches surrounding the pool and just chill out. My wife tells me she learned to love the Frick in high school when she went, not just to look at paintings, but to do homework in the peaceful surrounding of the court.

Why does the original matter?  Would you be shocked if I said it does not 100% of the time and I am thinking the most famous painting in the world, the Mona Lisa.  If you can only see a very small painting behind bulletproof glass, with hundreds of other people trying to get as close as possible to photograph it, it is impossible to commune with the Leonardo’s work.  If you were able to be with the picture, without the crowd, it would be a whole different experience.

If you turn a corner and are confronted by Rembrandt’s portrait of his son Titus at the Wallace Collection in London, I guarantee a different experience altogether, perhaps the right expression is, awe-inspiring.

If you are lucky enough to have a significant other with whom to share a transcendental experience in front of the same painting that is rare but oh, how rewarding.  This is true for me, at least. 

Since we all need to look forward to something when the current global nightmare is over, enjoying works of art in the original is one of the best.

PS:  Last week I started something new with my Missives, adding a comment I received to the end, when appropriate.  My cousin from St. Louis responded to the Ogden Nash poem I posted last week with another one that is the perfect retort:

 A mighty creature is the germ, 
Though smaller than the pachyderm. 
His customary dwelling place 
Is deep within the human race. 
His childish pride he often pleases 
By giving people strange diseases. 
Do you, my poppet, feel infirm? 
You probably contain a germ.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Humorous Poems

I hope that my missives both inform and entertain and since there is not a great deal to inform about these days let us try the latter.

I have always loved poetry and combining that with my sense of humor I might say that I enjoy ditties.  The champion of this art form as far as I am concerned is Ogden Nash.  He produced over 500 poems with his unconventional rhyming schemes and is this country’s preeminent master of humorous poetry.   

One that I learned as a kid and remember to this day is:

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree
At least until the billboards fall
I shall not see a tree at all

This is, of course, a take-off on Joyce Kilmer’s poem, “Trees”.

Most appropriate for today’s unfortunate circumstances is the following that may apply to those who test negative for COVID-19 but feel miserable nonetheless.

Common Cold
Go hang yourself, you old M.D.!
You shall not sneer at me.
Pick up your hat and stethoscope,
Go wash your mouth with laundry soap;
I contemplate a joy exquisite
I'm not paying you for your visit.
I did not call you to be told
My malady is a common cold.

By pounding brow and swollen lip;
By fever's hot and scaly grip;
By those two red redundant eyes
That weep like woeful April skies;
By racking snuffle, snort, and sniff;
By handkerchief after handkerchief;
This cold you wave away as naught
Is the damnedest cold man ever caught!

Give ear, you scientific fossil!
Here is the genuine Cold Colossal;
The Cold of which researchers dream,
The Perfect Cold, the Cold Supreme.
This honored system humbly holds
The Super-cold to end all colds;
The Cold Crusading for Democracy;
The F├╝hrer of the Streptococcracy.

Bacilli swarm within my portals
Such as were ne'er conceived by mortals,
But bred by scientists wise and hoary
In some Olympic laboratory;
Bacteria as large as mice,
With feet of fire and heads of ice
Who never interrupt for slumber
Their stamping elephantine rumba.

A common cold, gadzooks, forsooth!
Ah, yes. And Lincoln was jostled by Booth;
Don Juan was a budding gallant,
And Shakespeare's plays show signs of talent;
The Arctic winter is fairly coolish,
And your diagnosis is fairly foolish.
Oh what a derision history holds
For the man who belittled the Cold of Colds!