Distribution Automatique

Wednesday, January 21

Vulnerability on Ice

The reservoir in Central Park is
almost completely iced over now.
The ducks and seagulls have settled
into the few little melted patches that
opened up because of the daylight sun.
Yesterday I noticed
a bedraggled swan among the ducks and gulls
in one open patch
near the jogging path
and I was very surprised. I have
never seen a swan there before-
they usually go to the large lake
in the Rambles. Last year one died in that lake
although nobody knows why for sure.

A couple of years ago, after 9/11, I got
into the habit of going down to the
lake in the Ramble, particularly after
very cold spells, to feed the birds. The
colder it gets, the less food the birds get,
and though technically you are not supposed
to feed them- maybe because they
should learn to go elsewhere to get
their food in winter-
- I'm not really sure
why it's not allowed- I do it anyway.

Actually, I got reminded of this
practice during the past two winters when I saw the
Lucas Samaras show
recently at PaceWildenstein Gallery.
(32 East 57th St, 212-421-3292)
consisting mostly of powerful,
very large computer generated photographic
images of Central Park.
In one. Samaras pictures himself
as part bird, part human. These works
brought back some of the thoughts and feelings
I had when feeding the ducks, gulls and swans
day after day, mulling over the state of the world,
looking again and again at the downtown skyline.
Samaras himself was at the gallery photographing
the installation when I was there,
a coincidence that led me to studying the images
even more closely, as he appears, often
nude, in many of the images. This, also and
alas, may be why he fled the gallery shortly
after taking the pictures, who knows.
Maybe he was just in a hurry. And I could
well understand why the actor in a
drama of their own creation might
not want to be observed
backstage by the audience.
(Probably Samaras was documenting
the show because it closed on Sat 1/17.)
Here’s an article about Samaras with some
images- and for some reason, I just keep
bumping straight into the topic of narcissism.
Of course, I don’t agree with Roberta Smith’s
use of this term, but here’s a recent article
on Samaras: Roberta Smith on Lucas Samaras {click here}

A couple of winters ago I learned
how to toss hunks of bread to the seagulls
as they flew towards me as I was stationed
on the shore of the lake. After a
few visits the flock of seagulls learned how to line
up and fly around right by me one
at a time to get the pieces of bread
tossed up to them. When they are
really hungry they fly by very close to
catch it. Today it was a little like a
scene out of "The Birds" by Hitchcock,
and Toni, though completely into feeding the birds,
was understandably a bit concerned that
they might soil our coats as they flew by,
they seemed so extremely
eager to get the bread,
much more anxiously than I had ever seen before,
they were flying by so close and so
excitedly. There have
been many truly well below freezing
days and nights of late and the park
has been rather sparsely visited
at least here uptown in the 90’s.

I remembered today that I would
frequently get ideas for *fait accompli*
while I was feeding those birds. Today I thought
about power and greed, and human vulnerability
and the coming election.
I realized that I liked Howard Dean not only
because he is against war but also because he
studied science in order to be a doctor.
I don't see how this country
can use science and technology
to heal our wounds and protect
the country and its resources
by depending mainly on forms of
Christian mysticism to guide us.
I can well understand how religious
feeling and experience
can mean a lot to many individuals and groups
and help to bring people together in
a caring way. But the separation of church and state
was a doctrine not only developed for reasons
of protecting the diversity
of religious practice, but also for
insuring that governmental
decisions were based on reason, not “faith.”
And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know
that rocket science (the only type of science that
Bush seems to be interested in) is by far
not the most crucial
priority for the needs of the world
at the moment.
(By the way, we heard the comedienne
Reno discuss this topic brilliantly and
hilariously just this past Friday evening
at the Bowery Poetry

No matter how Bush tries to
impress the world with the United States’
power to conquer other countries
and outer space, I haven't forgotten
for a moment that 9/11 took place
on Bush’s watch, with all that information available
for predicting such attacks in the technological
informational pipeline.

Birds on a icy lake in a park,
people living in a cold and threatening world,
we are all only too vulnerable.