Diane Arbus in the Year 1928

from Diane Arbus: A Chronology, 1923 -1971, by Elisabeth Sussman and Doon Arbus:

In September, following in her brother’s footsteps, she enrolls at the Ethical Culture School on 63rd Street and Central Park West, a progressive private school begun by Felix Adler, founder of the Ethical Culture Society (1878). Originally known as The Workingman’s School, it emphasizes moral education, psychological development, teacher training, and the integration of “manual arts” with academics. The academic curriculum is designed to parallel the evolution of human civilization, from tree dwellers to contemporary society. Students in each grade study their subjects through the lens of a particular time period and culture.

The school is still in existence! Self just googled. Here’s the link. The name’s been modified but the address is the same.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.


The Reading List, 3rd Wednesday of July (2014)

Time for self to get serious again with her reading.

These are the list of books she plans to read.  It is telling that they are all novels.

Well, the last one, by Alan Furst, is more of a thriller.

She’s never read him before, so she’s glad for a chance to get to know him.

Without further ado, the list:

  • Sebastian Barry’s The Secret Scripture (Self adores Barry)
  • Richard Price’s The Lush Life (It’s set in New York City.  Self loves New York City.)
  • Janice Y. K. Lee’s The Piano Teacher (It’s set in Hong Kong.  Self loves Hong Kong.)
  • Alan Furst’s Dark Star (Self doesn’t know where this is set.  In fact, she hardly knows anything about this novel except that it was recommended in a back issue of Condé Nast Traveler)

Here’s a passage from The Secret Scripture, pp. 11 -12:

It is funny, but it strikes me that a person without anecdotes that they nurse while they live, and that survive them, are more likely to be utterly lost not only to history but the family following them.  Of course this is the fate of most souls, reducing entire lives, no matter how vivid and wonderful, to those sad black names on withering family trees, with half a date dangling after and a question mark.

My father’s happiness not only redeemed him, but drove him to stories, and keeps him even now alive in me, like a second more patient and more pleasing soul . . .

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.



Growing Up on Park Avenue (During the Depression)

The following passage is from Diane Arbus: A Chronology, 1923 – 1971.

Self stumbled across this book in April, after attending an Arbus exhibit at the Fraenkel Art Gallery, in downtown San Francisco.

In the summer of 1929, just before the stock market crash, Arbus’s family moved into 1185 Park Avenue.

This is from a radio interview conducted by Studs Terkel in 1968, for his book Hard Times:  An Oral History of the Great Depression.

The family fortune always seemed to me humiliating.  When I had to go into that store . . . I would come on somebody’s arm or holding somebody’s hand at what must have been a fairly young age and it was like being a princess in some loathsome movie of some kind of Transylvanian obscure middle European country and the kingdom was so humiliating.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.


On the Move 6: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

The Star Ferry:  Hong Kong, August 2006

The Star Ferry: Hong Kong, August 2006

IRT-Lexington Line, 86th Street Station, New York City, August 2006

IRT-Lexington Line, 86th Street Station, New York City, August 2006

Andrew de Jesus and his cousins Chris and William Blackett, the foothills behind Cañada College, Redwood City

Andrew de Jesus and his cousins Chris and William Blackett, the foothills behind Cañada College, Redwood City

Windows 3: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

The following pictures are, in self’s estimation,  self-explanatory.

View of the East River from Tudor Place, Manhattan

View of the East River from an apartment near Tudor Place, Manhattan

Bus Window, Seoul

Bus Window, Seoul

The Cloisters, August 2006

The Cloisters, August 2006

In Honor of the Day 2: “12/19/02″ by David Lehman

This is from Tin House Vol. 5 Number 1:


by David Lehman

It seemed nothing would ever be the same
This feeling lasted for months
Not a day passed without a dozen mentions
of the devastation and the grief
Then life came back
it returned like sap to the tree
shooting new life into the veins
of parched leaves turning them green
and the old irritations came back,
there were life, too,
crowds pushing, taxis honking, the envies, the anger,
the woman who could not escape her misery
as she stood between two mirrored walls
couldn’t sleep, took a pill, heard the noises of neighbors
the dogs barking, the pigeons in the alley yipping weirdly
and the phone that rang at eight twenty with the news
of Lucy’s overdose we just saw her last Friday evening
at Jay’s on Jane Street she’d been dead for a day or so
when they found her and there was no note
the autopsy’s today the wake the day after tomorrow
and then I knew that life had resumed, ordinary bitching life
had come back

“Manhattan in the 1980s was a gritty place” – Tracy Cochran

Manhattan in the 1980s was a gritty place.  I used to think of it as having dark glamour but no more.  A few years before, I had come to Manhattan like someone drawing close to a fire.  I wanted to be warmed, enlightened.  But nothing turned out the way I hoped, not love, not work, not life.  I pictured myself a waif huddling along in a bleak neighborhood, bringing her own pasta to dinner.  The image was so pathetic that I savored it, a fragment of a modern Dickens tale.

—  Tracy Cochran, “The Night I Died” (in Parabola, the Heaven & Hell issue, Summer 2013)

Since self thinks the cover of this issue —  Summer 2013, the magazine’s 150th (Congratulations, Parabola!) is pretty fine, she snapped a picture of it:

The Magazine's 150th Issue:  Self thinks the cover is pretty fine.

The Magazine’s 150th Issue

It did remind her vaguely of the work of a Flemish artist, she wants to say Brueghel but isn’t sure.

Later, she comes upon the title of the second piece in the issue:  “Emanations of Divinity:  The Cosmology of Hieronymus Bosch,” by Lee van Leer.

Yes, of course, that’s whose work she thought of when contemplating the cover.  Bosch, not Brueghel.  Accompanying the essay by van Leer are details of Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights.

The Bosch work is a triptych.  It hangs in the Prado in Madrid.  This is an astonishing piece of work, dear blog readers.  The left and right panels, especially.

Stay tuned.

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: The Golden Hour

The WordPress Photo Challenge this week is to post shots taken during “The Golden Hour” — Here’s the prompt:

In photography, the “Golden Hour” is the first and last hour of sunlight of the day . . .  go out and snap a photograph, wherever you may be, during this Golden Hour —  and pay attention to the natural light around you.

Love the theme!  Here are a few of self’s “Golden Hour” shots.

Golden Hour 1: Free concerts in Stafford Park, Redwood City, every Wednesday throughout the summer, 6 to 8 pm.

There was a crowd, as always.  We had a good vantage point, near the hot dog and hamburger stand.

There was a crowd, as always. We had a good vantage point, near the hot dog and hamburger stand.

Golden Hour 2:  A Philippine beach at sunrise

Sunrise, Bantayan Beach, Dumaguete

Sunrise, Bantayan Beach, Dumaguete.  Self visited Dumaguete for the first time with Niece G and son, when they were about seven.

Golden Hour 3:  New York City, not quite dusk

New York City Skyline (2006), viewed from the rooftop terrace of the Metropolitan Museum

New York City Skyline (2006), viewed from the rooftop terrace of the Metropolitan Museum

That’s it!  But, self hastens to assure dear blog readers:  these definitely won’t be the last posts on this theme!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Quo Vadis, Soderbergh?

There are many things about the David Denby article in The New Yorker of Feb. 11 and 18, 2013 that are worth quoting.

For one thing, it’s about Side Effects, a move self wants to see (The other new movies are A Good Day to Die Hard, which is supposedly terrible, Identity Thief, which is also supposedly terrible, and Safe Haven which self wouldn’t see even if it got rave reviews, which it didn’t)

Denby begins his review by saying that Steven Soderbergh “has made twenty-six feature films in twenty-four years, has just turned fifty . . .  and says that, after his new film, Side Effects he wants to leave movies behind in order, mostly, to paint.”

Self heard about the retirement announcement, nothing official, just trills on the Read the rest of this entry »

Katie Roiphe on Joan Didion (Fascinating)

Self has been reading In Praise of Messy Lives:  Essays, by Katie Roiphe, for the past three days.  She must say, she finds the book fascinating.

Here’s Roiphe on the Didion style:

Didion seems at first glance to be revealing so much about herself because of her mental fragility.  Certain temperamental qualities of hers — her paranoia, her morbid sense of impending disaster, and her distrust of all stated realities —  were particularly suited to the 1960s and ’70s.  Take the moment in The White Album when she writes about the “attack of nausea and vertigo” that led her to a psychiatric clinic.  On the surface, this might seem like an intimate revelation about her inner life.  And yet she ends the passage with “such an attack does not now seem to me an inappropriate response to the summer of 1998.”  This is typical Didion.  It’s as if her body were a finely tuned instrument for channeling the jittery mood of the country in flux.  Her sense of doom, of highly calibrated alarm, is always in the service of some larger point; her stunned disbelief is always a commentary, on the times, on a murder, on the water supply, on Hawaii, on the bewildering state of California.  It is never simply emotion for the sake of emotion.  There is no pleasure in frankly exhibitionistic exposure; there is none of the blinkered narcissism of some of our more recent personal writing.

Exhibit A and Exhibit B:

Her crying in Chinese laundries becomes “what it’s like to be young in New York.”  New York becomes “an infinitely romantic notion, the mysterious nexus of all love and money and power, the shining and perishable dream itself.  In the end, for all the spare, vivid details about her walking down the street peering into the windows of brownstones, about drinking gazpacho when she is hungover, the essay is about moving to New York and about being young —  not about Joan Didion moving to New York and being young.”

*          *          *

Completely unrelated:  A Selective List of Authors Whose Acquaintance Self Made for the First Time in 2012:

  • John Burnham Schwarz, novelist
  • Owen Sheers, novelist
  • Adrian Goldsworthy, historian of classical antiquity
  • Jerome Groopman, M.D., medical writer
  • Colin Harrison, mystery writer
  • Jesse Kellerman, mystery writer
  • Barack Obama
  • Rhoda Janzen, memoirist
  • Jeanette Walls, memoirist

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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