Friday, January 30, 2015

The Psyche of Patti Smith

After my day in Chicago I packed up the puppet and we were on our way back to New York city. The flight was short and sweet, the apartment seemed happy to see us, and the place feels more like home every day. My vast number of journeys last year earned me some flight privileges which I took advantage of to travel with two very heavy bags so I could bring back a number of books. I unpacked, ordered dinner, and promptly passed out so I could begin my next three day week.

Which also included Patti Smith.

A few months ago on my computer.

“Sara, this is happening.” Link to Patti Smith concert in New York.


“We should go. Let’s go.”

“Okay, I’ll buy a ticket.”

I buy a ticket.

“I have a ticket. Do you have a ticket?”

“Not yet but I am going to get one!”

I shake my head. Oh, Psyche, how I adore you, dream of you, love you desire you –distant muse, sweet friend, a strange companion who cannot be changed by time or distance. You are neither less nor more, but just who you are, always, never ending, Psyche. Someday we will both be dust, but somehow whatever it is that is the bond between us will still be that.

A few weeks before the concert.

“I bought a ticket”

“Just now? The show is in like three weeks?”

“I know. But aren’t you glad I remembered?”

“Actually, I’m pretty surprised you remembered, I admit it.”

“I’m so excited, I’ll see you there!”

The day of the concert.

“I forgot my credit card that I used to by my ticket.”


“They won’t let me into the show unless I show the credit card?”

“Dude, what?”

“I’m going to have to buy another ticket!”

“Dude, what? Just call the theater it will be fine.”

“Tickets are 200 dollars now. I don’t know what to do.”

“Call the theater and get on the freaking train.”

“Okay, I don’t know what to do!”

Sigh. I love that woman.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Temptation of James Ensor

The next morning I got dropped off in the city which allowed me to avoid taking the train which really does seem to be a blessing sometimes. The trains never run when I want them too on the weekend. Door to door service to the museum seemed like the most perfect thing. Dinner was scheduled for later in the evening with my love and I went in for some culture.

“Have you seen  the Ensor exhibit yet? Dude is seriously messed up. But it’s a great exhibit.”

“I have not seen the Ensor exhibit, I think that is what I am going to do.”

On the way we coordinated by texts but I easily beat the Author to the museum. Checked my coat, and headed in to the hall of the gods where I could bask chummily in their glory while walking through to get to the main exhibit.

Ensor, really did have a twisted sense of the world. One of the things that was so interesting to me was to see just how utterly dark his work was, and not so much dark in composition as dark in pallet. This is an artists whose color pallet never met a brown it didn’t like, and it shows. While you can see the influence of some of his contemporaries, the reality is that his particular art and working are a magnificent melancholy on canvas that grow more grim as you move throughout. I was only about a third of the way into the exhibit when I got the text that the Author and his lady wife had arrived so I went down to the member’s lounge to meet them for some coffee before heading back into the exhibit.

The Author is settling in well in his job, my old job, in Chicago; a job he is much better suited for. He has a posh little apartment near the lake on the north side, and is living much closer to his lady wife, at least in time, money, and convenience of flight. Like me, it’s a balancing act between time, distance and closeness with the ones you love. Distance is less distant when you have contact and a real desire to maintain relationships.

We sat in the lounge and talked pleasantries, enjoyed coffee and shared our Christmas stories.

“The Bard and the Electrician cooked, and my GOD the food was amazing. I mean, they really love cooking.” They had apparently gone all out, including a number of gluten free delights for the non-gluten consuming lady wife.

“Alright, so, I only got about half way through that exhibit and I want to finish it.”

“She hasn’t seen it yet.”

“You ready to go? I’m going to head in to where I left off, but I’m really slow, so I think it should be okay.”

“Sounds good.”

So the three of us set off and returned to the dark interior of Ensor’s mind as he struggled with his gods and demons, doctors, health, life and the fickle nature of the canvas and the page as conduits for the human experience. Does it manage to capture all of it, or do we miss it somehow when we try to paint it. Did his exercise in painting his inner turmoil and great conflict make him feel any better at all? It’s an interesting question.

All three of us were drawn to one of the most interesting if most disturbing pieces in the exhibit. A painting of a man being held down by doctors, while one wound out a tapeworm from his bowls, the others looking on with garish faces, seeming to be laughing. Clearly a scene of great distress. It was also one of the lighter pieces in the exhibit which interested me, and reading the card I could see why it was not only so ghastly but relevant to the artist.

Apparently, Ensor was afflicted with a very large tapeworm, one so big that it was eating more than half his food. Making him sick, and of course, causing him to lose a great deal of weight. From his perspective it took laughably too long for the doctor’s to correctly diagnose him, and in the end, he lost all faith in the medical profession while maintain what must have been a rather gruesome memory of having had the awful thing removed. It was an effective scene and painted in a way that left little to question about his feelings.

Fascinating stuff. From there the only thing for it really was a couple of very well made Martini’s, pleasant chat with old friends, rehashing life the universe and what not, before heading out for some shopping to end my evening.