After a month of touring the States to catch up with friends and family, I’ve settled back into Brooklyn for the long haul. The intent of this post is to get you, my long neglected readers, up to speed on where I’ve been and where I’m going.
Week One: Brooklyn limbo
As a sublettor continued to occupy my room, I couldn't unpack. So I spent my days wandering around Brooklyn, visiting the NYPL to read the run of the magazine Pan-Pacific Worker (1928-1932) and generally feeling unsettled. Also managed to visit the Asia Society to see the Ardeshir Mohassess: Art and Satire in Iran exhibit, which I liked, though the interpretive schema offered by the signage was a little lame. I also saw this enchanting little movie The Salamander (1971) that John Berger wrote the script for. Wanted, with Angelina Jolie, was less captivating but I had to witness it for the Russia connection (Timur Bekmambetov).
Week Two: Where's the Fire, Baby?
Then I headed out to California to see my parents, sister, nephews and West Coast friends. But to be honest, the main reason for visiting was because I didn’t get enough of this type of exchange during my year in Moscow:
Buster: “Ma, you look tired, I’ll clear the table.”
Modesto Uncle: “She wouldn’t look so tired if you found a daughter-in-law for her!”
Then a fire ignited in the hills above my parents’ house and the power went out. I think it got especially freaky when the winds were blowing the smoke directly over our house.
First the smoke looked like this:
Then it went from that Shyamalanesque creeping smoke to an ominous Spielberg-inspired cloud, concealing sunlight and sky alike:
So we high-tailed it to the Bay Area where I caught up with my nephews, my
Victory Day Parade in
Fourth of July Parade in Piedmont 2008
I also spent some time in LA and for the first time, I visited LACMA. And since I know that you all favor the haiku review, here you go, exhibit by exhibit:
Broad Contemporary Art Center
I made the mistake
of visiting this building
first—almost ruined trip.
shocked when I explained price tags
on “Hustler” series.
Phantom Sightings: Art after the Chicano Movement
Quality mixed, but
here—and only here—did teens
stop to engage art.
Tradition as Innovation in African Art
A clever idea,
but one little corner just
wasn’t enough room.
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner
It is no surprise,
is it? I’m a sucker for
Doctrinal Nourishment: Art and Anarchism in the Time of James Ensor
this one deserves a medal—
smart art with smart signs.
Week Three: Red Eye to JFK, then a Drive to DC
After arriving in New York at 5.30 AM, I came home, dropped off my luggage and packed a new bag for a trip to DC. While waiting for my ride, I went to BAM to see Up Tight (1968), a fairly brilliant movie directed by the recently departed, one-time blacklisted Jules Dassin. I only wish I wasn't so tired so I could have appreciated it more.
Then Mr. Buster went to Washington.
My main tasks in the nation's capital were to pick up twelve boxes of my books that were in a friend's closet for storage and to orient some scholars heading out to Russia for research next year. I also concocted a pretty good lamb-cashew-papaya-rosemary stir-fry for friends and drank a fair amount of wine and champagne.
And since it's all free, I squeezed in a little culture at the Smithsonian museums. The Cinema Effect at the Hishhorn was just alright. Mainly I went to see Isaac Julien's piece Fantôme Créole, which was interesting, but not moving. The rest of the works were, for lack of a better word, hokey.
Next, I took in the Aaron Douglas exhibit at the American Art Museum and Hip Hop Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, including the work of Kehinde Wiley, whose reception at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow I wrote about last year.
Then it was back to Brooklyn, again.
Week Four: Setting up Shop in Brooklyn
With the sublettor gone and all my books reunited in their Sunset Park home, I got down to unpacking, sorting and shelfing. But first, I needed some furniture. And for that, I made the requisite trip to Brooklyn's new IKEA.
Here’s the view of the Gowanus Canal from a rented U-Haul van stuck in Red Hook morning traffic (who knew?):
While I waited to return the van in the morning, I took a stroll around Red Hook. Those BK hipsters just won't stop:
And now, after a week of unpacking, buying furniture, assembling furniture, flipping through files and re-alphabetizing my book collection, I am back at work in my new shop:
Once again, you can expect MTBE—which is keeping its name for simplicity’s sake—to continue its regular reporting on this and that related to whatever I’m interested in.