South of Hugo, Colorado on Highway 287, the land is wiped clean, the prairie grasses and flowers of spring cut to the root by cattle, their shining white teeth. Dung, dark stains on the land running the fencelines, remnants of progress, the way we produce meat in this country. It cannot have rained in many days. These hard-pan flats, the leading edge of the Great Plains east off the Rockies, turn a dust devil against the horizon to the south.
A wave of suicides has swept over our battalion. Those who attempt suicide are deceived if they think they may do with themselves as they please. From now on, I order company commanders to carry out preliminary inquiries, interrogating anyone who has attempted suicide. The results of such inquiries will be sent to me immediately and official indictments will be remanded to a Special Military Court.
–Daily orders of Captain Commander Vasilopoulos Antonios on March 6, 1948.
By PHILLIP LOPATE
When, in June 2009, the High Line Park opened to the public, it was declared an almost unqualified success. Some architecture critics nit-picked the design, but basically they endorsed it, and ordinary folk (I include myself in that category), less fastidious, greeted it with enthusiasm. Crowds lined up for hours to have the elevated promenade experience, it became a (free) hot-ticket item in New York City, which typically over-embraces a novelty for six months, then ignores it. Especially in hot weather, the challenge soon became to grab one of the reclining benches on the sundeck and tan yourself for hours, while envious masses stumbled by. The crowded, restless carnival-grounds movement of the park-goers above-ground rhymed the pedestrian conveyer-belt effect of the gridded streets below: Manhattan is a place where loitering in one place is done at your peril. Paris has boulevard cafes for cooling one’s heels, Rome comes to a rest at fountains and piazzas, but in Manhattan you keep moving forward. Well and good: I approve.
There’s a big church conference in West Berlin and the streets are amazingly crowded, but many shops are closed. It’s the perfect day, we decide, to visit East Berlin, the land of Godless communism, as my husband Bob calls it. We hope to find bookstores selling cheap editions of classic books (Marx, Goethe). Also, because we are traveling on a tight budget, as always, we hope for some inexpensive but substantial meals. The Wall has been down for about seven months, but East and West are not yet unified, and they still have separate currencies.
Portrait of Charles-Désiré Norry (1796-1818), 1817
Signed, inscribed, and dated at lower left, Ingres à Mr. Norry / Pere. / rome / 1817
Purchased as the gift of Mr. and Mrs. Claus von Bülow, 1977
Photography by Graham Haber, 2011
From September 9 to November 27, 2011, The Morgan Library & Museum presents seventeen exquisite drawings and some letters by French master Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. In this interview, editor Jennifer Acker talks with curator Esther Bell about these drawings and the artist’s refined sense of place.
David and I leave our children, thirteen and ten, watching television in our rented house in Barjac, a village in southern France, to go hiking. They often fight like scorpions in a jar, but are best friends right now. “Bye,” they wave, eyes screen-ward. We don’t expect to be long. But after ten days of family vacation, we crave time alone together.
I imagine it this way. Gypsy awakens from a restless sleep, stretches. Hears his muscles and bones crack, sees how his curtains absorb the light of a late San Francisco afternoon, and at that moment decides to start drinking again.
He doesn’t remember having a booze dream, just woke up and decided: Today is the day I’m going to get fucked up. Something clicks into place. Thank God, it’s been decided.
For days he had found it hard to sit still, hard to sleep. His body ached from the weight of his bitterness. He tried to read some of his old text books on alcoholism and its treatment, tried to take pleasure in his term papers and the comments scrawled in red, Nice insight! and Excellent observation! but those evening extension classes at Berkeley had been nothing but a betrayal, an illusion of accomplishment, and he tossed the books and his notepads across the room with a rage that kept him awake at night. He had done everything he should, and still he was denied what he deserved.
Houghton Garden (Fig. 1) was created in 1906, on the grounds of an estate in Newton, Massachusetts, owned by Martha Gilbert Houghton and her husband. Houghton hired Warren Manning, a leading landscape architect and former member of Frederick Law Olmsted’s studio, to work with her on a design for her garden. Manning disliked the kind of formal garden fashionable at the time, which subdued nature with symmetrical, geometric forms. He advocated what he called a “nature garden,” whose design was less invasive, and took advantage of the elements nature already provided. This demanded, as he put it in an essay quoted by Robin Karson in Nature and Ideology (1997):
This summer, for the first time in my life of weather, I walked through a rainstorm: entered, endured, exited. All within one hundred yards of a smooth country road.
Other firsts: bearing out tornado warnings in the basement of Frost Library (twice); a moment of queasy lilting I assumed was in my head but turned out to be a Virginia-originated earthquake; battening hatches (drawing water, securing heavy items in the backyard) against a hurricane. To be truthful, I have experienced earthquakes and hurricanes before, but the former was in Guatemala, where such things are expected; the latter was in the foreign country of childhood in which parents are responsible for taping the windows, and I was allowed to dance in the driveway in my bathing suit in the warm wet eye of the storm.