THANKSGIVING DAY, 2010
Our New York times
I am giving lots of thanks for the assemblage of quirky things all around us in New York. First, for the fact that, quoting Kate Taylor in the New York Times of November 17, 2010, “a New York University photography professor will have a camera surgically implanted in the back of his head for several months as part of an art project commissioned by the government of Qatar.” The story was run first in The Wall Street Journal, and strikes me as pretty remarkable. “ The project, called ''The 3rd I'' and organized by a new Qatari museum called Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, will involve the camera taking pictures at one-minute intervals with the images being streamed to a computer database and then appearing in different sequences, some in real time, on monitors in an exhibition space in Doha between December and May.” The professor, Wafaa Bilal, had offered to cover the camera with a lens cap whenever he is on the N.Y.U. campus, but NYU has required that he desist from this project when in any university building, thus protecting the privacy of students and faculty. Ah. Given the recent uproar over screenings in airports, this seems a pretty good idea.
Next, for the pair of cowboy boots which live near a bench in Central Park, and have been there for at least six years, amid a bunch of crumpled leaves and Himalayan pine needles. They get replaced by a new pair from time to time. It turns out the boots belong to Hugo, a labor union organizer, who wears sneakers to look at “the light slanting through the trees” into the park. Nice.
And thirdly, and most engrossingly, again in a story about Central Park, I am intrigued by a film about Pale Male, that red-tailed hawk whose ambulations or wingulations and nesting behavior we used to follow on a Fifth Avenue co-op a while back. We would sit on a bench in our beloved Central Park and try for a sighting. Now the Legend of Pale Male is a film referred to in the New York Times of Nov. 25, 2010 piece by Jeanette Catsoulis, as a “sugary, aggressively anthropomorphized story of one avian interloper and a whole bunch of human obsessives.” This is, it appears, the sequel to a film called Pale Male, narrated by Joanne Woodward. For this one, Frederick Lilien, who produced the film, is his own narrator, and he feels like the biographer of the avian hero. To fill anyone in who wasn’t avidly following the story when it first kept happening, reported faithfully in the New York Times, Pale Male and his companion Lola would kill pigeons and drop the remains in front of the coop at 980 Fifth Avenue, some of whose owners were very unpleased and protested. A barrier went up so that the hawks could not return, which greatly irritated a few other human dwellers of the apartment house and the park. Etc. Back then, the wildlife writer Marie Winn and the videographer Lincoln Karim sat there and telescoped there with their “Hubble” – which itself became irritating to the co-op’s residents. Thus the film number two, which, it seems, “turns into a populist, right-versus-might crusade” about the co-op board and the Central Park observers, that is, “the so-called fellowship of the bench.” Janet Hess wrote the script, Rik David did the photography, and they hang out with Frederick Lilien and Marie Winn on that bench. What’s not to love?
And after Thanksgiving, here we are November 30, and along with the furor over Wikileaks, this: “Some Brooklyn Bees Turn Red” – turns out they were dipping into the sugary liquid from the nearby vats at Dell’s Maraschino Cherries/ And of course the electrician removing 271 works of Picasso’s, which he claims the painter gave him; it surfaces now that M. Pierre Le Guennec wanted to have them authenticated by Claude Picasso, who somehow did not believe the story of the gift. Then one of those art imitates life things: the grand actor Martin Rayner, playing a Freud dying of prostate cancer, collapses on stage in the last session of the play Freud’s Last Session, and is helped by Mark H. Dold, playing C.S. Lewis and helping Freud in the last act of the play. The writeup, by Corey Kilgannon, ends with Mr. Rayner (who is attempting to deal with his own prostate cancer by a raw food diet of green vegetables and flaxseed oil, enhanced by a powder with herbs and such) saying “I was actually winning,” and Mr. dold correcting him: “I am actually winning.” Cheers you up.