Category: Architecture and Design

Portraits of a Presidency

Posted February 15th, 2018
Portraits of a Presidency

On February 12, 2018, the portraits of the 44th President and First Lady of the United States were unveiled. How do I like them? Let me, as it were, count the ways. The paintings are modern. The artists who made them (Kehinde Wiley, b. 1977, and Amy Sherald, b. 1973) are young-ish. Both are figurative…

Book # 4 in 2018: “Leonardo da Vinci” by Walter Isaacson

Posted January 17th, 2018
Book # 4 in 2018: “Leonardo da Vinci” by Walter Isaacson

My brother the Boston Lawyer mentioned a couple months ago that he was reading Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster, 2017). I thought that was an interesting choice for him, a little off-road considering his normal preferences.  When My Dear One gave me a copy for Christmas, I emailed a question: “Why…

On The Erie Canal 3: The Saints That Guided Us

Posted August 26th, 2017
On The Erie Canal 3: The Saints That Guided Us

The more we travel, the longer our list of patron saints becomes. When our divinities—not all of whom, we believe, have made themselves known– bestow grace, we appreciate our good fortune. When they are cranky or generally feeling punitive, appeasement is not an option. Prominent among them are: Saint Accomode (not to be confused with…

On the Erie Canal 2: Not Quite As Expected

Posted August 22nd, 2017
On the Erie Canal 2: Not Quite As Expected

I don’t know, because I have never used a dating site, but this must be what it feels like when you show up for that introductory coffee and the person waiting for you has only the vaguest (and not in a good way) resemblance to the picture that originally caught your eye. According to the…

On The Erie Canal 1: History, Boats and Changes

Posted August 21st, 2017
On The Erie Canal 1: History, Boats and Changes

I’ve got an old mule and her name is Sal Fifteen years on the Erie Canal She’s a good old worker and a good old pal Fifteen years on the Erie Canal … Low bridge, everybody down Low bridge cause we’re coming to a town And you’ll always know your neighbor And you’ll always know…

Based in Batignolles 6: Architecture and Arrondissements

Posted May 31st, 2017
Based in Batignolles 6: Architecture and Arrondissements

“Alistair Horne, Vivid War Historian and Onetime British Spy, Dies at 91.” The headline in today’s New York Times would have caught my eye any morning. Right now, however, I am up to page 306 of Horne’s Seven Ages of Paris, engrossed in his narrative of the years leading to World War I. It’s a wonderful…

Based in Batignolles 4: Love Locked Down

Posted May 19th, 2017
Based in Batignolles 4: Love Locked Down

The novelist Federico Mocci (b. 1963) published a story in 2006 called Ho Voglia di Te (“I want you”), some variation on the star-crossed lovers theme, in which a doomed pair affix a lock to the Milvian Bridge in the northern suburbs of Rome as a symbol of their eternal devotion, and toss the key…

Based in Batignolles 2: One Thing After Another

Posted May 10th, 2017
Based in Batignolles 2: One Thing After Another

Gounod’s Faust was the first opera I ever saw, and I saw it at Palais Charles Garnier in Paris in March 1970. As we ascended the massive stair forty-eight years later, studied Marc Chagall’s rainbow of a ceiling and gazed out over the loggia outside the ornate Grand Foyer, it all came back. I was…

Texas Break 1: The River Runs Through It

Posted March 20th, 2017
Texas Break 1: The River Runs Through It

San Antonio is famed for two things: The Alamo and the Riverwalk. Decades ago My Dear One paused at San Antonio, while on route to California, to see them. He was disappointed. Apparently, the Alamo site was barely a building or two, including the chapel, and primarily intrusive hawkers of cheesy souvenirs. The Riverwalk was a short…

The Naples Jaunt 4: Mining and Minding the Past     

Posted March 5th, 2017
The Naples Jaunt 4: Mining and Minding the Past     

Ruins. Antiquities. The bones of the dead. Italy is a place where one culture layers on another, razing, reusing, raising new structures for new orders. Italy has commoditized her archaeological past since long before she was unified as a nation in 1860. Romans collected and copied works of Greek art. Greek, Roman, Egyptian relics were…