In New York’s huge Metropolitan Museum of Art or simply the Met, tucked away in one of its hidden corners, is the Luce Center, a visible-storage facility that displays more than 10,000 works of American fine and decorative art. Walking its aisles is like walking through a fine department store. In it, objects are arranged by material (paintings, sculpture, furniture and woodwork, glass, ceramics and silver), and within these categories they are further arranged by chronology and form.
Think of the Luce Center as the chorus line of the Met’s artworks, on stage, but not yet in the spotlight. Someday, one or two or even a few of these pieces will leave their glass case and be featured in some art show, say a retrospective of colonial era silver-smithing, but for most items this is their lot in life. A work of art, but not a great work of art. The corridor lights are motion activated, where illumination signals the arrival of the next occasional visitor. The lights shine for only a brief while, as someone marches down the aisle reviewing, but not really seeing. There are too many to see or to savor. Still, it beats being locked away in a box. You are after all on display, in showbiz sort of speak, if only in the chorus line, but maybe, just maybe, someday a star.
The Met’s collection is all online. That includes all of the objects in the Luce Center. Objects can be searched for. Online though, each object is catalogued and displayed individually. There is no sense of their collective presence. No chorus line to review. Every one of these objects is just a singular sensation.
Even though yesterday was V-E Day, we took a break from our relentless pursuit of World War II era justice, in the series Foyle’s War. We had already screened pass the V-E Day episode and have entered the post-war era. For a break, we watched the 2010 Rom-Com Valentine’s Day. It is a star-studded affair. Virtually a who’s-who of that year’s silver screen luminaries. It was an enjoyable piece of fluff that indulged is some serious tinsel town navel gazing. Set entirely on its namesake’s day, we follow this truly large ensemble cast’s trials and tribulations, all in the name of love. The part that I liked the most actually occurred at the end of the movie, while the credits were rolling.
If featured Julia Roberts, who plays a returning servicewoman, on only a very brief leave. Most of the movie she has been seated next to Bradley Cooper on a plane. He is playing a high flying businessman, sort-of-speak. Throughout the movie is teased their A-list hookup, but this is not to be. Instead, Cooper lends her his limo, so that she can have a few more minutes, out of her all too brief leave, with her significant other. In the credits, she is headed back to the airport and while passing Rodeo Drive, the limo driver asks her, if she has ever shopped there. Her big meta moment comes with the answer, “Big mistake. Big. Huge.” An allusion to her Pretty Woman role. I warned you about the naval gazing.
Hermès is a high-end fashion accessory store that originally comes from Paris, but these windows were photographed in midtown Manhattan. Both windows show playful scenes of cute furry animals playing the rather human games of ping-pong and cards. Like Macy’s, Hermès is know for its decorative window displays. These pictures were taken in the fall of 2018, on the cusp of the Christmas shopping season. Anne and I had spent all day marching up and down the island of Manhattan, trying to stay outside, because the forecast for the coming days held lots of rain. Previously, we had swung by Macy’s, where Dan had been working on his own Christmas window displays. After his shift was over, he introduced us to Britt and then we all went out to dinner.
Those were happier times in New York than these days are. Still, some joy can still be found. Yesterday, a belated birthday present arrived for Dan. Anne, with the help of Jane had sent a Zingerman’s care package full of goodies. Dan and Britt had been sheltering in place and were both giddy with its receipt. They are at Dan’s apartment, which is in a converted three unit Brooklyn brownstone. At the outbreak of the epidemic, one of his two neighbors quickly moved out and has not been seen since. Over last weekend, the other unit’s neighbors also disappeared. Now, Dan and Britt are home alone in NYC. All they need now is a cameo from Donald Trump, for their own remake of Home Alone 2: Lost in New York or they could do the Canadian version of the film and edit him out of it.
I had just read an article in The City that tells the tale of two cities and which includes a New York City map that showed the changes in the amount of household garbage collected this last March, compared to a year ago. According to the article, you can think of garbage as the canary in the coal mine, when it comes to social trends. As people shelter in place, in less affluent neighborhoods the amount of garbage is up, but in the richer neighborhoods garbage collection is down. This map showed that while the amount of garbage collected was up for most of New York, it was down significantly in high rent Manhattan. The gist of this article was that this decline is attributable to wealthier Manhattanites fleeing to their summer homes in the Hamptons and the like. This article goes on to note other buildings like Dan’s, where most of the tenants have fled town.
Saturday, Brit and Dan escaped the confines of their apartment, after having been cooped up in it for the duration, while living in the middle of the hot zone, at least for one afternoon. They may or may not already have had the virus, without testing, there is just no knowing for now. Still they are attired in face masks, showing their caution, concern and solidarity with others.
Near the southern tip of Brooklyn, just off of Flatbush Avenue, on the Long Island Sound, lies Dead Horse Bay. It is not the most picturesque of locales, but still somehow seems quite suitable for these dystopian times. The place is so named for the 19th-century horse rendering plants that used to be there. Over time, with the advent of the automobile, the need for horses and their eventual rendering disappeared over time. The place was then repurposed as a landfill, filled with mounds of garbage. These were capped with soil, but since the land is a tidal marsh, subsequent sea storms burst that cap. It was high tide when they visited, thus obscuring one of the place’s attractions, Broken Bottle Beach. This beach is full of glass from the thousands upon thousands of broken bottles that were washed out of the landfill. In the half-dozen photos that he sent, there are no other people around, lending an eerie spookiness to the place.
Examining these two photos, I deduced that Dan, always the set dresser, had done some “gardening” in-between each shot. We wondered if the hulk was left over from super-storm Sandy, but Dan said that it hadn’t been there two years ago, when he last visited the place and Brit hadn’t see it either, last December. People must just like leaving their toys lying about.
I’ve taken to texting the boys on an almost daily basis now. The last time, I was rewarded with these photos from Dave. He and Maren had escaped the confines of Boston and had driven down to the cape, where they found plenty of space in which to distance themselves with. Unlike Fort Lauderdale, it looks like they had the beach pretty much to themselves.
Dan meanwhile is living in the hot zone. He sent me this map that was current as of yesterday morning. He lives in the red ring that covers most of Brooklyn. He lives across the street from an Orthodox Jewish community center. Looking out his front window, he could see a crowd had gathered there. First the Shul police tried to break up the gathering and then NYPD rolled up. Dan and Brit have been holed up together, subsisting on takeout and delivery. He has kind of lucked out this department. First a pizza order got screwed up and they got four free pizzas for the price of one. Likewise, a breakfast order was delivered twice. Can you say second breakfast?
Meanwhile, back on the farm, Anne and I went out for our daily constitutional. Then Anne attended another virtual gyrotonics class. I went for a bike ride. For a change, there was not a cloud in the sky, although it was pretty windy, so this marvelous weather won’t last very long. The park was pretty crowded, but not too. With the zoo and all of the museums shuttered, there were fewer people in the park than such a fine day would normally garner. Only the restrooms and the golf courses are still open. There were lots of flowers out, including the redbud, which is in full bloom. Two of those large flashing highway signs, the kind that normally tell you which lane ahead is closed, had been installed. Their message was, “Six Feet Apart Folks.” They could have turned them off though, for all of the effect that they appeared to be having. I didn’t use the bike path, but kept to the roads, which allowed me my space.