31 May 2008

nothing new under the sun; you knew that

The call for papers for "The Green Nineteenth Century" -- the 30th Annual Conference of the Nineteenth Century Studies Association to be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in March 2009 -- includes this text:

We welcome paper and panel proposals concerning any aspect of "green" studies in the long nineteenth century, including, but not limited to "ecocriticism" in nineteenth-century studies; history of ecological science, environmental ethics, and environmentalist activism; nineteenth-century studies and animal welfare; ecofeminist philosophy and gender politics; contemporary discourses on nature; nineteenth-century ecotourism; Romantic "ecopoetics" and the politics of nature; "green" program music and tone poems; sustainability, including sustainable architecture and interior design; landscape painting and nature imagery; dramatic scenery; color associations and color theories; gardening and farming; conservation movements; and the idea of the "natural" or "unnatural." Equally welcome are proposals for papers and panels on Irish studies, earth-centered religions, the idea of the "new," and other understandings of "green" studies in the nineteenth century.

Perhaps this especially resonated because I'd had a discussion about office conservation with a co-worker yesterday as we closed up the office. I said my family actually competes a bit on out-greening each other ... that is as much as any of us compete, except at Scrabble, Monopoly, etc.

A watches B watches C

It was a "Metropolitan Diary" moment (but they'd probably consider it not fit to print). As I walked home for lunch yesterday, there was a handsome worker picking at the caulking around the window on the building on Washington Square West. He was faced the other way so I was staring. A pretty woman walked by in the other direction. His head swirled to look at her. Or maybe it's a really trite New Yorker cartoon. Or Paul Cadmus painting.

25 May 2008

Patrick Ireland

The Times had an article about the death of Patrick Ireland, the artistic alterego of critic Brian O'Doherty. The intersection of cataloging and life moments. O'Doherty "invented" Ireland in 1972 as a response to the British presence in Northern Ireland. Recently, he had a funeral for Patrick Ireland and buried the alterego. I'll probably add a note to the NACO record. Since the heading doesn't have life dates, it obviates the issue of physical and intellectual life dates. Are Ireland's "life dates" 1972-2008 or those of O'Doherty? Not that it matters a great deal.

I finished reading The Palace of Varieties this morning. It's the latest novel by James Lear, another sexy romp with historical setting, hardly a new genre. This one is set in 1930s London and features a young man, in from Sussex to escape a drunken father and find his fortune or whatever. Reading Lear is easy. Reading Lear right after Trollope's He knew he was right is quite amusing. Lear appropriates a historical mode and Trollope is quintessentially Victorian. The dogged determination of Trollope's characters is quite the foil for Lear's "take it as it comes."

Morning is so beautiful here on Carol and Barb's hill in Branchport. The birds singing their various songs. It's chilly this morning but we didn't get a frost here as Doug said they threatened in Alfred. Somehow the morning beckons here. Morning's fine in NYC but almost screams "get up!" here in the country. And now the folks begin to rise.

12 May 2008

what do they know?

We were meandering around Brooklyn Designs in DUMBO yesterday afternoon after a lovely brunch at Stan's Place on Atlantic Avenue. Looking up at the supports of the Manhattan Bridge is just so wonderful. I love the heavy classicism, the round arches, the rusticated columns, the tapered pilasters, the little hooded shelters along the pedestrian path. I was thinking "Hornbostel" as we looked and checked the AIA guide when I got home. They say that the Manhattan Bridge is "perhaps the least inspiring design of any of the city's suspension bridges" (4th ed., p. 82). Hornbostel also worked on the Carnegie-Mellon campus.

10 May 2008


Lovely morning. Not warm, nice spring chilly. I got out fairly early for a Saturday and wasn't able to get a haircut appointment before 10:30 so I meandered over to the Center to get the weekly rags: HX, Next, Gay city news, Blade, Philadelphia gay news. Really good walking temperature. And still it wasn't 10:30 and St Mark's Bookshop doesn't open until 10. I sat on a bench in Cooper Square but with construction on two or three sides, it wasn't good diary writing or reading space. Off to St Mark's where I found Worlds away: new suburban landscapes. Why is it that if I love walking the city streets so much that I am also drawn to studies of suburbanization process. Is it just that land use and human geography are so much a part of sprawl, strip stores, Googie architecture, etc. Or is it because I'm a Gemini? Christina Peter and I had quite a conversation last night at NYTSL about how we're not overly astrological but recognize that one's sign is reflected in our life course. Her folks said she was a bad Leo and good ... can't remember. She's not aggressive enough to be a normal Leo but has some of the characteristics.

Worlds away has a wonderful lexicon of "suburban neologisms" by Rachel Hooper and Jayme Yen (p. 270-288). It's in the salmon-colored pages. There are also green, blue, ochre, gray, and white pages. I bought the book partly because I knew Laura Migliorino had some works illustrated but also because it's aesthetically pleasing. It's published by the Walker Art Center and was designed by Andrew Blauvelt and Chad Kloepfer. Laura's photos are of families overlain on their domestic setting. The Walker bought a copy of "Egret Street" a year or two ago.

Sitting in Cooper Square was a bit of future tripping. The Technical Services Department is scheduled to move out of the Bobst Library building at the end of the year. Bobst is the central library for NYU, and NYU's libraries are fairly central so there aren't lots of branches though Courant, IFA, and REI aren't dinky operations to be sneezed at. Anyway, we're moving because zoning won't allow NYU to develop any new classrooms East of Broadway. Our space in Bobst is therefore to be converted to classrooms and we'll get windows. The building at 20 Cooper Square looks like a nice loft/warehouse building. Unfortunately, the space can't be ours permanently and we'll have to move in a couple years again. Since the office culture could use a good jolt, I'm hoping that the new environment will be a good jolt. What are the chances of that? A few weeks ago, I would have accepted a retirement offer in a second; recently, I've been feeling more optimistic. ARLIS/NA conference? Visiting with Geurt Imanse who was in town last week? Spring? Or just the Gemini flow?

07 May 2008

sometimes you wonder where you've been all your life

Ray Schwartz happened to send me a notice for the Spencer Finch talk last night at Cedar Lake. Finch is doing the first public art installation on the High Line. When I sent the notice to the ARLIS/NY list last week, Holly Wilson said "thanks" and he's one of her favorite artists. I trust Holly's taste (is that safe?) and decided I should go even though I just got back from the ARLIS/NA conference in Denver on Monday night and could probably use some sorting and/or sleeping time. But, boy, the lecture was great. Holly and her husband have a couple drawings by Finch: a drawing of snowflakes is one of them. Finch is captivating. His website is at http://www.spencerfinch.com/. The first part of the High Line park is supposed to be open in the later fall and Finch's project (stained glass windows in the building above the Chelsea Market) is scheduled to be up for a year from then.

So why wasn't this wonderful artist already in my ken? He was at RISD but graduated in 1989. I didn't work there until academic year 1989/1990. He has exhibited at galleries where I certainly have been numerous times. He does the kind of conceptual, thoughtful, quirky, ironic, earthy stuff I like, sometimes subtle, sometimes outrageous. Oh, well, NOW I know. Thanks, Holly. Not only all that but he also talked about the creativity that can come from not having enough to do. Finch had been in New Zealand for some time not so long ago and showed up some slides of stuff he did out of the boredom. I couldn't help reflecting on my brother's thoughts about me surviving in Alfred where there's stuff to do but it ain't New York City.

John Maier, Alycia Sellie, and Matt (Alycia's partner) also joined us. We walked past the Finch site and ended up at Karavas for some food -- I think it basically satisfied both the meat eater and vegetarian crowd. The pita was warm and the felafel was tasty. Alycia and Matt are from Wisconsin so I had some fun talking about Michael Perry, the author and humorist who writes about New Auburn, the town where we lived in the early 1950s. Early life thoughts are especially rampant these days, just having gotten back from Colorado where we lived in the later 1950s. I didn't get up to Boulder but did have good Colorado thoughts.