Here I go again, blogging from an airplane!
Christina and Kodiak and I are on our way back to New Mexico from New York City, having decimated four more cars with the Hand of Man!
(This might be my favorite photo of the weekend... it really shows the scale of the Hand and I somehow managed to capture a motion blur on the car, or what is left of the car!)
The Hand is finally on its way back to New Mexico after being stuck in Europe for over a year, and it is due for a thorough inspection, some maintenance, and even a few improvements. It seems as if the Hand might get a few more gigs from the exposure it received this weekend, and we’ve gotta keep it in tiptop shape!
When I blogged last, I was actually not on a plane to New York, but rather to Maine. I know this is going to sound rather extravagant of me… but I have for many years really wanted to get a pair of custom-made Limmer boots. Limmer is a family run business in Intervale, New Hampshire which has been in constant operation since 1925, and which builds durable high-quality custom hiking boots.
They only guarantee the fit if you visit them in person, and the wait list for such an appointment is about 2 years. My name came to the top of the list while we were in Germany, so it was actually close to a 3-year wait for me, but I finally made it to their little shop to get my feet measured.
Now I have to wait 8-10 weeks for the boots, but hell, I've been waiting 3 years already.
While in Maine I stayed with Christina’s and my old friend Juniper, who we really wish had never left Taos! Well she lives in there now and it was really fun for me to be her guest in the cute little town of Belfast. She never gets to eat lobster because all her friends are vegetarians (!), but I was thrilled to help her with this little problem.
Juniper and I travelled to New York where we were joined by Christina, Kodiak, Shay, and Claire.
What a great crew. Building the Hand, running the Hand, and taking it down went so smoothly. Thanks guys, you are awesome.
While in New York, I got a chance to catch up with family. My mom is currently living there to help my brother Trevor and his wife Caroline with their new baby Beowulf, who is frankly adorable. Our cousin Vivien also came down from New England so it was work and fun, all in one weekend.
Trevor, Beowulf, Kodiak, and me
Because Christina and Kodiak and I lived in cities while in Europe, being in New York was a bit of a throwback to our time over there. From the subways to the crowds to the retail density, it all felt familiar and comfortable. But to me, the highlight of the trip was probably our regrettably short visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), squeezed in between work obligations. On view was the special exhibition “Heavenly Bodies, Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.”
Something strange happened when I first came upon this display of outfits…
…. Something I actually cannot really explain….
…and it happened again only a minute or two later when I came upon this piece by Alexander McQueen….
…. And that is that I was genuinely, briefly, overcome by emotion.
Yes that’s right, I was approximately on the verge of tears. And I can’t really understand it. I’m certain that it has nothing to do with Catholicism, for I have no sympathy or fondness whatsoever for any religion. I think it is something more like: I was overcome by so much beauty. I don’t know if that’s even possible. I am reminded of the plastic bag scene in “American Beauty.” Like, there was so much beauty that I just couldn’t take it. I don’t really know. But I was mesmerized. And to be in the physical presence of that winged ensemble by McQueen, which is one of my very favorite of his creations, after having read and thought so much about him, was an incredible feeling. I lingered there… and came back a few times… almost incredulous that I was actually seeing it.
Some people (some men?) might find such a reaction embarrassing, and might choose not to admit it. And it does occur to me that that is a possible course of action for me. But I find it too interesting, too curious, too worthy of examination. What elicits an emotional reaction, in art? It’s a question I was looking into back in Barcelona. Surely my strong reaction to McQueen was conditioned by my personal relationship to him and his work, but I’m at something of a loss to explain my reaction to the row of black, more overtly religious outfits. Is it the obvious care and dedication and personal investment that went into crafting those pieces? Is it the femininity, the shapes? Is it the flawless presentation? All these factors are ingredients in the overabundance of beauty on display. And to be honest I think the grandiose orchestral music filling the museum played a part, suggesting perhaps that I am easily manipulated, and alluding also to the power of the multi-sense approach (sight and sound) so frequently employed to such great effect in film. Anyway, as I’ve said before, I think that the power to provoke strong reactions such as those that I experienced is a kind of holy grail in the arts, and I find it fascinating, and curious, that I had such a strong response to…
a bunch of mannequins dressed in high fashion.
The rest of the museum, or that small portion of it which we had time to visit, did not disappoint.
Shay and Juniper and I collectively decided that this woman dancing with flowers actually appeared, when viewed from a certain angle, to be gleefully removing her own entrails…
The museum was not short on beautiful sculpture… Such as this bather, sculpted with unflinching anatomical accuracy,
the somewhat strangely titled “Mexican Girl Dying,”
this wonderfully sculpted face, apparently depicting someone who has recently learned he will be skinned alive after losing a bet with a god...
and this great torso by Maillol.
But McQueen is ever the superstar in my mind, so here are a few more…
Here is one I’d not seen before, in any of the books… a female torso festooned with roses, crafted in silver, and hinged so as to be actually worn.
And returning to the wood wings, a side view...
In the presence of greatness!
While in New York we also went as a group to see the deservedly famous immersive theater production Sleep No More. So much has been written about it that I won't say anything other than: it was fantastic. I would go again. If you're into the macabre, sex, death, Shakespeare, and theater you will also want to see it. Google it for more info.
I was on airplanes today. I really enjoy looking out the windows, especially near the beginning and end of the flight, because you can get such good aerial views of topography, of cities, of the land. The view from an airplane can really let you see the relationships between things on the ground, in a way that you simply can't see from the ground. And it occurred to me, actually, that this is exactly what looking out of an airplane makes me realize: just how shitty the view from the ground really is, how very little you can see from down there. And in all of this, a metaphor came very clearly to me... which is that I think most of us go through life on the ground, without a clear perspective on what is behind us, in front of us, or to the sides. It's hard to get perspective - to get up high and see the relationships between the events in our lives - to see how one event, one relationship, one success or failure, flows into and informs the others, just as rivers flow from mountains which rise from plains (all of which is so easy to see from an airplane but hard to see on the ground.) What then, in this metaphor, is analogous to getting up high and getting that perspective in one's own life? Is it meditation? Is it introspection? Or therapy? My guess is that all of these help, and I think you also have to want to understand yourself. I think we humans are handicapped in our efforts to understand the big patterns of our lives by our poor memories, and maybe also by the occasional desire to forget. Anyway I don't know the answer. But it strikes me as a good metaphor, and the views from the plane were good.
For the first time in more than half a year, I have nothing in particular on my calendar. No trips, no deadlines. Sometimes that feels scary, but right now... at 10:15 on Tuesday night... it feels awesome.