COCKTAIL HOUR AT THE FRICK, COVID-STYLE

“Why these vegetables together? This is the artist, sending someone to the market and presenting everyday objects in a new light.” What’s wonderful is on the one hand “the simplicity of the depiction combined with the incredible beauty, the sort of poetic feeling. You can feel the texture, the surface of the porcelain, the fabric, the wood, the glass.”

FALLOUT: THE EVIL OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS

When journalist John Hersey arrived in Japan, over a year after the dropping of the bombs, he was staggered by what he found. A mother who’d clung to her dead infant daughter until the body started to decompose. Human beings who had been vaporized, leaving only shadows on the ground or walls. Residents, desperate to rebuild, who were still coming across severed limbs and charred corpses.

ON THE EXECUTION OF LISA MONTGOMERY

Here’s how this week’s arts and culture column begins: The world revolves; the Cross stands still. I don’t know Latin, but that’s the rough translation of the motto of the Carthusian order (Stat crux dum volvitur orbis). I’ve thought of it often these past weeks. Things are happening in our world, nation, state and city […]

ROBERT MACFARLANE’S LOST WORDS

His capacity to conjure landscape is alone astounding. Add to that an astonishingly wide-ranging grasp of geography, geology, natural history, cartography, and literature. Throw in the fact that he’s no mere scholar or armchair philosopher: every book is grounded in his willingness to take on the physical hardship of mountain climbing, hiking, camping, sailing, and tramping. But what makes Macfarlane sublime is the aching longing for a lost Eden that sounds like a bass note beneath all his work.

RELIGION AROUND BILLIE HOLIDAY

Holiday was no poster child for political correctness. She frequently chose—in fact, sought out—men who abused her physically and emotionally. She was notoriously profligate with money, food, and space, sharing her apartment at times with pimps, prostitutes, addicts. Her fondest wish was to have kids, open a home for orphaned children, and have her own little supper club, maybe 200 seats, where she could feed people and sing.

Instead, she was “existentially correct”….

THE FEMININE GENIUS OF OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE

Here’s how this week’s arts and culture column begins: A few weeks ago, I attempted to make an appointment for an intake session with a therapist. My co-pay would be zero, I’ve never availed myself of such help, and especially after this past year of COVID, wildfires, political unrest, I thought—Why not? I had to […]