Happy Easter and Happy Passover, everybody!
We went on a quick road trip over Easter weekend.
On Saturday, we headed down to NYC to see the art show that my little brother was in. Man, he’s adorable. I know that he’s a grown man and all, but seeing his art spirals me into time warps, back to when he was a little kid painting at our kitchen table, or a bigger kid who drew so well that everyone thought he was tracing.
But meanwhile, present-day John is on a completely different artistic intellectual plane, well beyond my understanding. Years ago I visited the Musee Picasso in Paris, and I really loved how it was organized chronologically. You could see Picasso’s evolution, what interested him, what he was working on, and how one phase of work followed from and built upon another. And I remember that, during my visit, I walked through one of the galleries of Picasso’s work while he was in his 20s, and I realized, he’d lost me. Or, I guess, I lost him. He moved on, and I stopped grasping what he was doing. I feel a little bit like that with John. He’ll explain why he used a particular material, or that he used one piece to create the other piece, or that he is using a sculpture to create the sort of images that you’d normally see in paintings or paintings in a way that makes them sculptural, and I can follow it. . . mostly. But to explain with any kind of depth, he needs to reference artists, writers, and whole cultural movements with which I am wholly unfamiliar. He’ll say, “You know . . . ?” and I’ll shake my head, mute, and then it happens a couple more times. He is passionate about important artistic problems that have bypassed my life–let’s face it, most people’s lives–entirely. And yet there’s a brilliant, super-artist segment of the population to whom his work speaks eloquently.
So it is almost comical to walk around looking at his art, because he’s used to critiques where artists challenge each other on every choice that they’ve made, but instead he’s walking around with his big sisters who are saying things like, “I like how that part is swirly” and “this one’s my favorite.” He digests our comments with just as much earnestness and sweat on his brow as if we were making well-founded arguments about his approach that he’ll need to take into consideration to Grow As An Artist, when really it’s all just code for “We love you! We’re so proud of you! Look at how great you’re doing!”
We had a fabulous Yelp day in New York, starting it off with super-delicious pizza from Isola and finishing with margaritas and Mexican food at Casa Mexicana, where we feasted on guacamole and margaritas, and I had some shrimp.
We were fortunate to have a little bit of extra time to walk through Columbia University and peek inside the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. Now, I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned it before, but I went to graduate school at Columbia. I didn’t enjoy my time there: I’d say most days ranged from tolerable to abject misery. But the bright spot was being a docent at the cathedral. I love that place. If you’ve never visited, you should. So I was practically skipping around the cathedral, pointing out stone carvings and stories in the stained glass window. I really wish I’d realized that we were going to go in, because I would have looked at my old notes. I only took a couple of photos while we were there, and that when I noticed that the 20th-century niche for the “person of the century” series had been filled in since I’d stopped volunteering there. If you look below, you’ll see (from right) 17th-century Shakespeare, 18th-century Washington, 19th-century Lincoln. I used to ask my tour folks who they thought should go into the blank space. Now it’s filled in, but they clearly couldn’t make up their minds, because it’s a crowd: MLK, Einstein, Susan B. Anthony, and Gandhi. This got me very excited because J’s doing a project on Susan B. Anthony. I went looking for her and found her slouching on a chair, clearly not as jazzed up about the cathedral highlights as I was. Yes, she’d heard about the statue. What? Oh, yeah, she’d grudgingly come with me to see it herself. But she was clearly ready to move on to ice cream.
We spent Saturday night in a hotel since we had plans to rejoin most of the family at my sister’s house in New Jersey for Easter afternoon. This presented a bit of a logistical problem for the Easter Bunny. Traditionally he hides the Easter baskets somewhere around the house, but there’s not much you can do in a hotel room. Well, that bunny is awesome, because he came up with a clue note treasure hunt that took the kids from their hotel room to an upstairs ice machine to the lobby, an outdoor courtyard, the fitness room, and the lobby again before looping back up to the hotel room where the baskets had presumably been hiding all along. What a great bunny!
The only complication was when the girls were led to a planter by the lobby’s front door, where there just wasn’t a note. This was odd. Our hunt took place at 6 am, and my bet is that it was at least 10 pm when the notes were left. If I know this particular bunny, I’d say that the bunny likely explained what was happening to the attendant at the lobby’s front desk so that they would leave the notes alone, and, for good measure, each note read, “Please do not remove.” So it was peculiar when my children were searching the planter for an extraordinarily long time as Cute W and I made confused hand gestures to each other. Finally, someone at the front desk signaled to me and quietly placed the note on the counter. So, what? They saw it, took it away, but didn’t throw it away? I wonder what harm they thought a small pastel note hidden behind a planter could do to the other guests? In any case, it was fortunate that they hadn’t ripped the note to pieces or anything, because we went with the time-honored “look again” strategy, and just like the tooth fairy’s money, it seemed to appear magically where we could have sworn it wasn’t a few minutes ago.
After the gala basket hunt, Cute W consulted Yelp again and found Montclair Bread Company for some traditional Easter donuts. Yes, your eyes do not deceive you: the donut in the lower-left has a maple frosting garnished with small slabs of bacon. But those weren’t even the most decadent choices: the swirly ones contained enough Nutella to supply your entire days’ worth of saturated fat. Lenten season, be gone!
The afternoon was beautiful, and the kids were very excited to hang out with their cousins and frolic in one of the coolest backyards ever, complete with a two-story treehouse, a zipline, and more.
Then it was home again and a day of rest before our next road trip, which I’ll tell you about next time.