#amwriting: August in New York

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New York City Brownstone, Upper East Side

It was the end of August. New York was filled with the sound of small explosions: high heels on pavement, sudden flurries of pigeon feathers, screeching tires, contentious voices.

Beautiful Passage

This is from Essay # 3 of The Lonely City, a collection of essays which so far are all about New York, and the special loneliness of being lonely in a city of so many millions of people (Self actually appreciates that kind of loneliness; she loves the angst of it).

Self took the picture below last spring. She was looking across Park Avenue from a building on the east side:

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Sunset, Manhattan: May 2016

On East 9th Street there was a café that looked out over a community garden planted with an enormous weeping willow. It was populated almost exclusively by people gazing into the glowing clamshells of their laptops and so it seemed a safe place, in which my solitary status was unlikely to be exposed.

— “My Heart Opens to Your Voice,” Essay # 3 in Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

Edward Hopper, Jo Hopper, and the Whitney Museum

This passage is too sad. Jo Hopper, Edward Hopper’s wife, was a painter. But she painted very little after she married (She was 41, Edward was almost 42).

. . .  it is almost impossible to form a judgement of Jo Hopper’s work, since so little of it has survived. Edward left everything to his wife, asking that she bequeath his art to the Whitney, the institution with which he’d had the closest ties. After his death, she donated both his and the majority of her own artistic estates to the museum, even though she’d felt from the moment of her marriage that she’d been a victim of a boycott by the curators there. Her disquiet was not unwarranted. After her death, the Whitney discarded all her paintings, perhaps because of their calibre and perhaps because of the systematic undervaluing of women’s art against which she’d railed so bitterly in her own life.

— “Walls of Glass,” Essay # 2 in Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

 

 

THE LONELY CITY: Another Chapter

I didn’t stay in Brooklyn long. The friend whose apartment I was staying in came back from L.A. and I moved to the green walk-up in the East Village. The change in habitat marked another phase of loneliness; a period in which speech became an increasingly perilous endeavour.

— Olivia Laing, “My Heart Opens to Your Voice,” Essay # 3 of The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

This is really a lovely book.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

THE LONELY CITY: Edward Hopper

The Lonely City, by Olivia Laing, is a work of nonfiction.

It’s a collection of essays about lonely people.

Self’s on Essay # 2, “Walls of Glass,” which delves into the work of painter Edward Hopper and one painting in particular, Nighthawks, which can be seen at the Whitney (one of self’s favorite New York museums).

The painting is something the author returns to, again and again, during a lonely fall. She followed a lover to New York and it didn’t work out. Something about Hopper’s painting resonates with her.

Self decided to throw in a photograph of her own. It documents her enduring fascination with windows, her fascination with glimpses of other lives. Photo after the excerpt:

All photographs are silent, but some are more silent than others, and these portraits attest to what was by all accounts Hopper’s most striking feature, his gigantic resistance to speech. It’s a different thing from quietness, silence; more powerful, more aggressive. In his interviews, it functions as a barrier, preventing the interviewer from opening him up or putting words into his mouth. When he does speak, it’s often simply to deflect the question. “I don’t remember,” he says frequently, or “I don’t know why I did that.” He regularly uses the word unconscious, as a way of evading or disclaiming whatever meaning the interviewer believes to be seeping from his pictures.

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Windows are portals. When self looks through a window — any window — her imagination takes flight.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Narrow: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 29 Friday 2016

  • From spaghetti to the quiet alley behind your house, this week show us something narrow.

—  Ben Huberman, The Daily Post

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Manhattan, June 2016

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In Manhattan, the Avenues are narrow canyons between buildings: Park Avenue, June 2016

For a change of scene, Oxford, UK had an exhibit on “Shakespeare’s Dead.” Self was there in May 2016. The banner advertising the exhibit is pretty narrow:

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An exhibit at the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, UK: May 2016

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Still On: Anne Enright’s THE GREEN ROAD

The Green Road is taking self to some very unexpected places. Such as: New York City, 1991. Which turned out to be a watershed year for self as well. Just read her story “Lenox Hill, December 1991” in Charlie Chan Is Dead, Vol. 1, edited by Jessica Hagedorn.

Here’s an excerpt from Enright’s novel:

DAN – New York, 1991

. . .  if the question was whether Billy was still sleeping with Gregory Savalas, then the answer was that they had barely slept together in the first place. Billy was a blonde boy, on the sturdy side, with a thug/angel thing going, so there was a line of sad bastards queuing at his door; half of them married, most of them in suits. And Billy hated the closet. What Billy wanted was big, shouty unafraid sex with someone who did not cry, or get complicated, or hang around after the orange juice and the croissant.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Details 2: Spring and Summer 2016

Discover the intimate details of something unexpected.

— Jen H., The Daily Post

Self’s go-to summer sandal: low heel, super-comfy, and bright orange. Summer’s all about comfort and freedom: her feet are happy.

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This is New York City, May 2016, during an unexpected lull in a frantic week:

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Park Avenue Nocturne: Self only just noticed the little squares of lighted windows from the buildings across the street. The view is from her brother-in-law’s apartment in Manhattan.

Finally, self was able to visit Bletchley Park, just outside London, in early June. It was an overcast day, self got to the park early, before the crowds arrived. In fact, self was the only person walking from the train station that morning.

She hasn’t seen The Imitation Game, the movie about the codebreakers of Bletchley Park, but there’s an exhibit of costumes used during the filming, and Benedict Cumberbatch is on the audio guide.

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Whatever self expected when she visited Bletchley Park in June, she never expected the grounds to be so lovely. There was a lake full of ducks and very approachable swans.

Highly recommend a visit to Bletchley Park. The exhibits include an actual Enigma machine. The history is just palpable.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Year 2016 Thus Far: Favorite Places

Philadelphia: So glad that she was in the City of Brotherly love when Orlando happened. Because there is something comforting about being in the city where her older sister went to Biz School:

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City of Brotherly Love: June 2016

New York:  Chris, William, Mandy, Carmen, Judy, Luis

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Living Room of Brother-in-Law’s Apartment, Manhattan, June 2016

The British Museum, because, because. Just because.

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Classical Elegance: The British Museum, early June 2016

Dodo and Helen came from different parts: Cambridge and York, respectively. We met in London:

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Everything is easier with friends: On the No. 10 bus, June 2016

And Bletchley Park:

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Swan, Bletchley Park, June 2016

Bloomsbury Square and environs:

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The Duke of Bedford’s Private Garden in Bloomsbury, June 2016

This is the first of a series of posts where self will keep looking back to 2016 Thus Far.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Trying To Think of the Good In Life (Pure 3)

Just two days ago, the sun was shining, all felt right with the world.

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Central Park, New York, Friday 10 June 2016

And this was a picture self took in Bletchley Park, outside London, just a week ago:

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Bletchley Park, Where World War II Codebreakers worked to turn the tide.

And another from Bletchley Park. The swans are exceedingly tame and are so used to people that they let children go right up to them and pet them.

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The tamest swan self has ever encountered: Bletchley Park, June 2016

In solidarity with the people of Orlando, Florida.

Stay tuned.


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