Books, brooks, a sudden savant

Books and Brooks by Melanie

Diana de Avila.Uranium Glass
Uranium Glass. Copyright 2020, Diana de Avila. Used by permission.
Because I’m so old-fashioned, when I woke up in the middle of the night, I updated my blogroll. I mean, what else does one do with a foot cramp at 2 a.m.?

I started with adding some folks who were on my previous blogroll. Some, I discovered, were defunct or inactive.

And I’ve added a new one, Books and Brooks. The title comes from As You Like It: Act II, Scene 1 by Billy Shakes. “And this our life, exempt from public haunt, Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything.”

This blog is by Melanie, whose previous blog I had discovered quite by accident and followed regularly. Unfortunately, it came down, not by her doing.

Melanie was crucial in helping me discover my biological grandfather and has provided me in additional genealogical tips. We’ve never met in person, but she’s has been a great friend.

Synesthesia

Someone I HAVE met in person is Diana de Avila. When I first saw her one New Year’s Eve, she was playing Celtic Snare with Albany Police Pipes and Drums. She became a friend of a friend. Her other relationship went by the boards, but Diana and I kept in touch.

She was/is a fascinating person, a military veteran and a former nun. We’d drink tea or coffee in some hangout on Lark Street in Albany and solve the problems of the world. Briefly, we were even neighbors.

When she moved away, we kept in touch sporadically. Among other things, she was an early tester of Google Glass, which I found fascinating.

And now, I’ve just discovered Diana has Acquired Savant Syndrome. She is one of only 319 people “added to a registry.” She notes, “There are a few things that make my case even rarer: 1) I am a female, 2) mine is accompanied by Synesthesia. 3) I don’t have Autism and am not on the spectrum – mine arose from brain injury.”

The Synesthesia somehow makes sense to me. Many years ago, she and another friend were in the house of my soon-to-be wife reading auras and seeing colors the rest of us were not connected to. It’s not the same thing, of course, but it resonates similarly to me.

You should read this article about Diana, which touches on other aspects of her life including her health. And check out her website.

I’m lucky to have Melanie and Diana in my life.

Renoir: “a hedonist’s dreamland”

Ida O’Keeffe: Escaping Georgia’s Shadow

Renoir.Clark ArtMy wife and I went to the Clark Art Museum in Williamstown, MA. We’d surely been there at least a couple times before, though I don’t seem to have mentioned it in ye olde blogge.

The featured display was Renoir: The Body, The Senses. As the description notes: “From the late 1860s and early 1870s when he attempted to find fame at the Salon, through his Impressionist phase, and until his final years working steadfastly in the south of France, Renoir returned repeatedly, almost obsessively, to the subject of the body—clothed, certainly, but especially nude.”

And it wasn’t just his work, but that of his contemporaries such as Manet and Monet. While I wasn’t formally part of the tour, I listened in to one of the guides. She gave me a greater appreciation of the techniques used in the paintings, some of which are deteriorating somewhat. The display will be up until September 22.

We also viewed Ida O’Keeffe: Escaping Georgia’s Shadow. Ida Ten Eyck O’Keeffe (1889–1961) had some talent. More interesting, though, were the relationships. Georgia actively discouraged the artistic ambitions of Ida and their sister Catherine. Catherine abided by Georgia’s wishes; Ida did not.

Earlier, Ida often visited Georgia and Georgia’s husband Alfred Stieglitz. He took several photos of Ida, and it is thought that Alfred had a non-reciprocated flirtation with his sister-in-law. Ida once noted that she too could have been more famous if she had “a Stieglitz,” someone to promote her. The Ida O’Keeffe show is up through October 14.

My friend David Brickman discussed both of these displays HERE.

Then we did what we had never done. We went on a tour of the original building from the 1950s with two young women as our guides, one who just graduated from Williams College, and the other an incoming junior. It is an eclectic mix that reflected the taste of art collector Robert Sterling Clark and his wife, Francine.

The docents noted that during the Cold War, the Clarks worried about the safety of their artworks. Anticipating a possible attack on New York City, where they lived, they started looking at sites in rural New York and Massachusetts in order to found a museum for their art in a less vulnerable location.

Admission to the Clark Art Institute is $20, but free to students and those under 18. Since we have a card that reflects a reciprocal arrangement with a library in Albany, the visit was free. Last time, I bought some books; maybe I will next trip as well.

The title of this piece is from a Wall Street Journal review.

Annie Lennox: ‘Now I Let You Go…’

Who will remember us — and for how long?

mass moca.annie lennoxThe family, including all of my immediate in-laws, spent nearly a week in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts There’s a lot of cultural landmarks there, including the Norman Rockwell Museum, which I’ve been to at least thrice.

This year, my wife and I attended three other museums/galleries. First up, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, generally referred to as MASS MoCA.

One of the first things we saw was Annie Lennox’s ‘Now I Let You Go…’. This link will tell you most of what you need to know. A docent pointed out one thing I DIDN’T notice, that a piano on top of the pile shows up in shadow on a far wall, and it’s quite affecting. The musician had a vision for the piece, and contacted MASS MoCA, according to a radio interview. She writes:

We interact with an infinity of objects from birth to the grave.

Over time our ‘belongings’ become more steeped and resonant with memory and nostalgia.
In many ways, personal objects express aspects of who we are — our identity: our values: our statements and choices.

The passages of time through which we exist become defined by the objects with which we interact.

The artifacts contained within the earthen mound — partially buried — partially excavated — have all played a part in my life.

I have had a special connection to each item presented — a connection that has been hard to relinquish.

In time, we will all disappear from this earth.

This is our destiny.

What will we leave behind? Who will remember us — and for how long?

I heard music in the background that sounded like Eurhythmics’ Sweet Dreams Are Made of This, yet not exactly. It was the song played backward, it turns out.

Coincidentally, two other female musicians also had displays at the museum, but I saw neither. Unfortunately, the paintings of Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders leave at the end of August 2019. The work of Laurie Anderson will be there through 2020, but one has to make an appointment in advance.

Things we did see included Still I Rise (through May 2020), the ceiling lights of Spencer Finch’s Cosmic Latte, and the most impressive Hello America: 40 Hits from the 50 States, a new wall drawing by Joe Caldwell (the latter two through 2020 at least).

Admission is $20, but you can come back the next day for free. If our schedule had permitted, we would most certainly have done that. Since the last time we went – could it have been in 2007? – it had taken over far more repurposed old factory buildings than the handful where the museum once existed.

Gallery of the Louvre: gallery of my office

“Whoever you are, you’ve got Charisma!”

gallery of the louvreAt work, I’ve got an office for the first time in 12 years. I’ve been in cubicles, and for more than two years in a part of a storage space; long story.

*The only thing on the wall in the latter location was a picture of John Lennon c 1972 which my friend Rocco of FantaCo gave me decades ago.

My wife and my daughter decided to rectify that situation. Most of the items were in the attic, not getting the love they needed.

*The largest item is a print my wife had of Gallery of the Louvre, 1831-33 by Samuel Finley Breese Morse. Yeah, the guy who invented the telegraph was also an artist.

It appeals to me, a picture of pictures in a picture. But I also appreciate that one can be an artist and an inventor too.

*My friend, the late Raoul Vezina, did a pencil drawing of me as the duck and had it framed. The large word balloon reads “SURPRISE, ROGER!” The thought balloon was of me thinking, “Is it time for Agronsky and Company already?” That referred to a news talk show I watched regularly.

The duck is reading a New York Times Magazine, which featured the actual content of the issue dated Sunday, March 7, 1982, SELF-SEARCHING IN ISRAEL by Michael Elkins. I think Raoul gave it to me the next day. The picture reminds me of Raoul, of course, who died in November 1983, but also FantaCo, and my birthday.

*A little picture of a pear in the foreground. The caption: “‘Whoever you are, you’ve got Charisma!’ exclaimed Red Ball.” My wife tells me it’s suggestive. Whatever.

In a WTEN (Channel 10, Albany) interview of me before I appeared on JEOPARDY! in 1998, I noted that passing the test doesn’t necessarily mean I’d be on the show. The interviewer said what makes the difference between appearing and not. I said, cheekily, “I don’t know, charisma?” And for about five years after that, one of my work colleagues noted that I had CHARISMA.

*There’s a tiny photo of the top of Binghamton (NY) City Hall, which my friend, and ex-girlfriend, gave me. My hometown.

*The last piece is abstract so difficult to describe. I expect from the color scheme it was from Central America. We got it as a wedding present, I believe.

December rambling #1: Sheila E. turns big 6-0

Rebecca Jade [the niece], Ashling Cole, Sheila E., Lynn Mabry before taking the stage at the Paramount Theatre of the Arts in Oakland, CA during 60th birthday month of Sheila E., Dec 2017
How Facebook Figures Out Everyone You’ve Ever Met

“Apocalyptic” Melting Transpires in Antarctica as Earth Wraps Up a Scorching Year

The Environmental Protection Agency wipes climate change from its website

Huge Bubble of Hot Rock May Be Rising Under New England

Atheists are nicer to Christians compared to the other way around

The Jerusalem Issue, Explained

Joe Biden to Anita Hill: “I Owe Her an Apology”

Arthur voted for John Anderson

Inspirational news stories that are anything but

With 2020 Census Looming, Worries About Fairness and Accuracy

American prisons end face-to-face visits – and families suffer

Why Verizon’s insurance plan covers… nothing

Congratulations, Australia!

Racism, Fundamentalism, Fear and Propaganda

Americans receive ‘threatening’ automated calls telling them to stop criticising Trump

SATIRE! Palestinians recognize Texas as part of Mexico and World to recognize Moscow as capital of the United States

A president… unfit to clean toilets in Obama’s presidential library or to shine George W. Bush’s shoes

Former ‘Son of Sam’ at Albany Med for heart ailment

On SNL, Santa’s Tricky Moment With Savvy Kids

Derivative Sport: The Journalistic Legacy of David Foster Wallace

Colonoscopy…..is such a lonely word – as I heard a comedian say recently, life is like a colonoscopy prep

Once in a while the pessimist is wrong

Why we need art

in praise of second fiddle

Levidrome – a series of letters that yields up a word in one direction and a wholly different word in the other

Mark Evanier’s blog post #25,000

The Complicated Legacy Of A Panda Who Was Really Good At Sex

Now I Know: The Largest Man-Made Accidental Explosion and What Do You Do With 10,000 Pounds of Spoiled Mayo? and How NASA (Almost) Got Its Rock Bag Back and The Problem With Five-Cent Hot Dogs and The Surprising Way to Get Rejected

Talking about Kevin

MUSIC

Que je t’aime – Johnny Hallyday; and A million take to Paris streets for his funeral

Pat DiNizio, lead singer and songwriter of The Smithereens died at age 62

Happy Harry Chapin Day and Coverville 1196: Cover Stories for Billy Bragg and Harry Chapin

Trump vs Talking Heads – Swedemason

Coverville 1195: The Jimi Hendrix Cover Story IV

The Alan Parsons Project: If you believe in the power of magic…

More of the Whitney Avalon Show!

BBC: Perfect Day and God Only Knows

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class of 2018 inductees. Performer Category: Bon Jovi (inevitable), The Cars (voted for), Dire Straits (would have voted for if there weren’t 19 candidates for five slots), The Moody Blues (my pick), Nina Simone (worthy but hardly rock – see Baez, Joan). Award for Early Influence: Sister Rosetta Tharpe (should never have been on the competitive ballot; just put her in!)