Toni's sister Beryl and her husband Bob came down from Arlington, Mass to make a holiday visit this weekend. To celebrate her 70th birthday, Toni's stepmother Barbara suggested that we drive up to Storm King Art Center near Cornwall. Though it was a cloudy day everyone still wanted to go. The drive up the Palisades Parkway was pleasant as usual and the sumptuous country style breakfast we had in Cornwall was more than pleasant: It was naughty to have pancakes with eggs and sausages but what the hell, we needed strength to cover all that area at Storm King where hundreds of sculptures, many of them monumental in scope, may be seen in an outdoor setting of rolling hills, streams and trees. We boarded a tram and got an overview of numerous sculptures, but everyone agreed to get off and wander around when we caught sight of the Andy Goldsworthy stone fence he constructed there in 1997-1998 over a period of about 4-6 months. The museum collected the stones and with 4 or 5 helpers Andy Goldsworthy reconstructed a gorgeous fence made out of stones fallen from old stone fences, which were piled by hand and kept stacked by gravity alone, circling beautfully around tree after tree and ending up at the edge of a stream, to be picked up again on the other side. I bought a nice color photo of the site covered with snow in winter later in the museum shop as well as a slide of the fence. The groundsperson explained to me that a bunch of students had carelessly walked along the top of the fence the other day and some people were stealing the stones. For those of you who are as yet unfamiliar with Goldworthy's work, I suggest you see the film about it, that was recently released, if you can. There are numerous books with plenty of photos of his work in wood, ice, stone and other materials. Somehow, for me, this fence made most of the other numerous monumental sculptures, mostly constructed of steel, look like quaint leftovers from an age obsessed with metal girders and skyscrapers. Goldsworthy's work celebrates the earth, stones, contemplation, stillness, grace and, that apparently hopelessly outdated concept, "nature." This work offers time travel par excellance! I also enjoyed a huge, but subtle piece by Richard Serra, a collection of David Smiths, a small gathering of items by Nam June Paik, but in addition to the Goldsworthy, most of all a monumental piece made out of cedar and graphite by Ursula Von Rydingsvard, whose recent show followed Goldworthy's at the Gagosian Gallery.
Barbara, who used to live in Nyack with Toni's father, the late Bill Simon, who was a fine songwriter and musician, about ten years ago, suggested we stop over there for coffee on the way back. I got a chance to visit a compact used bookshop I like very much and found a small hardbound book of short pieces by Samuel Beckett called "Fizzles," from 1977 with the bright yellow Grove Press book jacket still intact and a book about the musical theories of Claude Debussy by Leon Vallas which I had long ago taken out of the library and regretfully returned.. I got into a conversation with the owner about his own book collection and he told me he liked to collect memoirs by bookstore owners like Vincent Starrett's *Born in a Bookshop* and another one by Madeline Stern. He also told me about his collection of hobo's writings. A number of these interesting wanderers were typesetters who would get short term jobs and write memoirs, typeset them on the sly and sell them! Later, on the drive back to the city Bob suggested a book of essays by Camus: "Summer and Nuptials." Never heard of that one. Dinner at Mogodor, of course, on St Mark's and back to Barbara's for Chinese Checkers, beer and cheese and looking at old photos. I didn't feel like Chinese Checkers so I read an article in the Sunday Times Arts and Leisure section about photoblogs (one recommendation was fotolog.net). Suddenly the Times is very interested in bloggers! But the articles, as usual, have been fuzzy and neither exciting nor informative. The Times is often lacking in two crucial aspects that make for absorbing reading: sensitivity and insight. I've had it with the Times: The New York Times is over if you want it!