Twentieth Entry



Monday, April 6th, 2020

Week four of a pretty different life for many. The city has moved from the wonderful chaos of a Joan Mitchell or Jackson Pollack painting to the minimal order of an Agnes Martin or Barnett Newman.

Wisconsin changed the date of their primary election one day before Election Day.

The lack of planning in the US continues to impress me as it has for decades. Today, the NY governor said the state now has enough ventilators, but, for the first time, I heard there is “an unprecedented demand for pharmaceuticals.” It seems that most people on ventilators also need to be sedated, typically for many days. Ventilators, ventilators, ventilators was all we heard, but who was in charge who did not make this direct connection? Certainly not a team of experienced doctors. As a nation, we have come to either hate or distrust knowledge, science and experience.

I went for a walk around 10:30 PM after another very full work day. Soho, sometimes called the Cast Iron District, is a wonder to walk in. There are many handsome old buildings which have come to house supremely first-world merchandise which is visible through large modern glass storefronts. The warm evening air was welcome—soothing. I heard cars in the distance, but did not see one moving at any point during my entire walk. After about ten minutes of strolling, I saw a young couple walking their dog—the first humans in this sleepy little town. Again I wondered how long I will continue to marvel at how empty it is here?

I don’t know how to explain the experience of being in NYC, especially at night; it continues to startle me. Maybe it’s like opening your refrigerator (a familiar place) and finding it to be totally transformed. If you open your fridge only a dozen times a day, that would mean you open it 40 or 50,000 times in a decade. I try not to open my fridge too often, but I probably exceed that estimate by double; at approximately 100,000 opens in the last ten years I am familiar with its ever-changing landscape.

Imagine opening your fridge and finding it empty. Not low on food, like it is time to go to the store, but empty. Not one egg, no milk, or cheese, no left overs or soy sauce. No soda, lettuce, yogurt, bacon, mayo, or mustard. But your view is not into a new refrigerator—it is still the refrigerator you know; maybe the door squeaks or does not close well. There might be a jar of capers parked on the door, or some exotic oil in the back that you never figured out how to use. The stuff that never moves is there. The scene is fully recognizable, yet changed. It is the same place and a different place.