Saturday, September 29, 2007
I should take more vacations like this.
Ten days, post-season, in Montauk is both very restful and can be very productive. Having nothing vacation-y to do, just me, Linda and Nanook, with 8 1/2 gorgeous fall days out of ten, crisp and clear, I could spend plenty of time writing and reading outside, watching the odd movie or ballgame. If someone would kindly fund me for a while, I could churn out this bio in no time!
Montauk is an OK place, past the awful snottiness of the Hamptons, replacing the bluebloods and fashionistas with Long Islanders in jogging suits; I guess, push come to shove, I'll take the latter over the former. Having been essentially a fishing town, it never quite acquired the panache of its western neighbors, a good thing. otoh, this tends to make it, in season, something of a frat boy drinking town, hence our venturing there in late September. Don't understand why everyone doesn't do that. Oh, wait.
Nice beach (virtually no one on it), great lush vegetation, pretty good food places. We stayed in a cottage in an area about a mile west of town. There are no streetlights in the entire neighborhood and, as since virtually everyone had abandoned their homes for the summer, walking Nanook in the evening gets about as close as this city boy ever comes to experiencing total darkness, depending on the clouds and the phase of the moon. Very nice.
Took the ferry out to Block Island this past Monday, easily still my favorite place in the Northeast. Rented a bike and tootled around the island. It's always intensely nostalgic for me when I visit; I've been there so often since about 1962 (maybe 20 times?) that I still expect to see people I know walking down the street which, of course, no longer happens. Amazingly beautiful place.
Finished Chabon's "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" which I eagerly await being turned into a rollicking film, something it begs to be. (Just checking imdb, I see no such reference yet but did notice that Kavalier & Clay is scheduled for 2009...)
Read Simon Schama's "Landscape and Memory". I hadn't looked through the contents before beginning and assumed the entire book concerned woods, forests, etc. and their relationship to art in general and people's psyches. Only the first third or so is wood-oriented though and, I think, it's the part that succeeds brilliantly in achieving his goal, to show how notions of "woods" are deeply etched onto the subconscious of people (or at least Western people. One of my criticisms is that, with the odd exception, Schama concentrates entirely on Europe and America; I often found myself wondering if his generalizations would apply to Amazonian Indians, Bushmen, Inuit, Malaysians, etc.) I'm not crazy about the term "myth" as I think it carries too much unnecessary baggage, but he does a wonderful job of demonstrating how ideas about "forest" pervade Western thought, art and politics.
However, he then goes on to two subsequent sections on water (rivers, mostly) and Stone (mountains) and his argument weakens considerably, even though he continues to provide story after fascinating story. He simply overreaches. He grabs at too much: Certainly wood, water, and stone are going to be rather important components of pre-industrial man's life and associated lore is going to arise about them. But whereas he convinces the reader of the pervasiveness and huge influence with the wood, the other two are just strings of anecdotes, not able to bear all the weight he wants to assign them. Still, a very fine read.
Began Steven Pinker's "The Stuff of Thoughts" which, so far, is as thoughtful and intriguing as most of his other work.
One thing we forgot to bring was the portable CD player, so my only listening option was via the DVD/TV combo. I did give one listen to the first disc of the Atlas Eclipticalis set--still had misgivings, though I wouldn't base anything on that sonic set-up.
Releases awaiting me upon arrival home:
Marc Baron/Bertrand Denzler/Jean-Luc Guionnet/Stephane Rives - Propagations (Potlatch)
(Various) Airport Symphony (Room40)