January 20, 2017

Watertown, MA. January, 2017

So noted. Can you think of any public figure today who wouldn't be allowed in the library?

January 19, 2017

Nantucket. July, 2009

When I lived in New Jersey, figuring I could go to the Statue of Liberty any old time, I never went. Now I live in Massachusetts, and I figure I can go to Nantucket any old time. You know the rest. So when I was working not that long ago on some copy to describe the benefits of new noise-reduction headsets engineered for pilots, my client suggested I might want to fly with the product and experience it firsthand. Good idea. Even better idea: When we took off in the small, luxurious plane from Mansfield Airport, our pilot floated the possibility of flying to Nantucket for lunch. All in favor? Everyone. And even though we ate at the airport restaurant, it was the best reuben I’ve ever had, owing mostly to the company, the view and the spectacular approach, seen here. When we all returned to the mainland and I, sadly, to my office, colleagues asked me where I had been most of the day. “Oh,” I said, “doing some product research with a client.”

January 18, 2017

New York, NY. December, 2016

Manet is one of my very favorite painters. Yet I keep forgetting that the Metropolitan Museum of Art houses this beautiful painting of his, The Dead Christ with Angels. Here's what I learned from The Met's website: "Manet identified the source for this painting, the first of several religious scenes, in the inscription on the rock: the Gospel according to Saint John. However, in the passage cited, Christ’s tomb is empty except for two angels. After Manet sent the canvas to the 1864 Salon, he realized that he had made an even greater departure from the text, depicting Christ’s wound on the wrong side. Despite Charles Baudelaire’s warning that he would 'give the malicious something to laugh at,' the artist did not correct his mistake. Critics indeed denounced the picture, particularly the realism of Christ’s cadaverous body." Spoilsports.

January 17, 2017

Trastevere, Rome. October, 1986

There are lots of reasons to visit Trastevere, the section of Rome “across the Tiber” from the centro. My first trip was to a Sardinian restaurant where I’d sampled the flaky, ultra-thin flatbread carta di musica (sheet music.) Another time was with Paolo, a sometime Fellini actor and Italian teacher-turned-boyfriend of an American friend, who was going to show me the best pizzzeria in Rome, the St. Ivo. The place was packed with sports fans, the pizza memorable, and I recall moving several barricades so that we could park within an off-hours construction site, no other space being available. (I call this kind of shenanigan “When in Rome” behavior.) But if I had to pick my favorite site in Trastevere, it would be this: the Bernini statue of Blessed Ludovica Albertoni in the church of San Francesco a Ripa. Bernini is well known for his Roman masterpieces: fountains in the Piazzas Navona and Barberini, the baldechino and colonnaded piazza of St. Peter’s Basilica, his magnificent sculpture of Saint Teresa in Ecstasy in the Cornaro Chapel of Santa Maria della Vittoria (an almost daily Roman stop for me.) This quiet and subtle memorial rests in a small niche to the left of San Francesco’s altar, lit naturally from a small window hidden above. Yet another wonderful example of how Bernini could make marble ripple with a soft, liquid expressiveness, evidenced as much in the suffering facial expression as in the billowing expanses of fabric. Ludovica is considered a “blessed person” in Roman Catholicism, known for her religious ecstasies and her alleged gift of levitation. Beatified in 1671, her canonization and sainthood are still pending.

January 16, 2017

New York, NY. December, 2016

Trying to see too much (especially when surrounded by so many people) at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art is exhausting. Fortunately the museum knows this and has placed benches throughout on which weary patrons can rest a bit. I recommend the seating provided in front of this lively Matisse. Three minutes and I was up and running again.

January 15, 2017

Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, NY. December, 2016

I love Christmas traditions. One of my favorites is going with my friend Nick to Hazar Turkish Kebab on Christmas Eve. And this past Christmas Eve was no exception. We each had decided not to order appetizers (a decision foiled by one of the owner's sending over some roasted eggplant salad and some cacik) and simply to stick to the tried and true Adana kebab. So good. My home is near a handful of Turkish restaurants in and around Boston. But none comes close to Hazar. I'm already gearing up for next Christmas Eve. Or before.

January 14, 2017

Marken, The Netherlands. August, 1972

How many times do you suppose this woman has posed with tourists? Dressed in a traditional manner that has endured for centuries, she was, I remember, "a character." Robert and I had taken a bus-and-boat day trip from Amsterdam, the last stop on our summer-long vacation. Short on cash and eager to return home, he and I had different approaches to these last days of travel. I took free tours (diamond processors, Rijksmuseum, etc.) and went to see What's Up, Doc? (imagine Barbra Streisand with Dutch subtitles.) He took to his bed at the Hotel Seven Bridges -- selected for us by the local tourist booking service; only later we did we learn it catered to a gay clientele. I went looking for this photo not long ago when, at my last job, the possibility arose of relocating to Amsterdam to train our European-based writers in various corporate mysteries and ways. There was a lot of talk, the project was slow to materialize and then was subsequently dropped after a management shift, but I had fun imagining living there and thinking about how I’d travel all around Europe from this base. I even started to learn a little Dutch. Very little. The useless "I don't speak English" and the wholly practical "Enjoy your meal." This affable woman looks as if she might be comfortable saying both.