Wednesday, October 31, 2012

MWA VIII: Goya's Caprichos

Better late than never, as they say. It may be October 31st, but it's not too late to do another Monthly Work of Art, and the etching The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (El sueño de la razón produce monstruos) from his series Los Caprichos, 1797-98, seems appropriate for today. I actually just paired this with Fuseli's Nightmare, 1781 (about which I once blogged), on my students' midterm exam as comparison images. Goya was a great Spanish artist who eventually became the official painter to the king, Carlos IV. But in this series of etchings he began to explore fables, morality, and superstitious tales, and produced some extraordinary images in the process. This work has been seen in art history as a statement on the transition from Neoclassicism to Romanticism. The "sleep" of the rational mind can produce monstrous visions. On one hand, this is a good thing, as it means the artist is free from restraints and can allow his imagination to run wild. On the other hand, this is a bad thing, because without restraint one can go a little crazy. Whatever the interpretation, it seems like a lovely, haunting image appropriate for today. Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Exit Sandy

I'm still rather surprised that I did not lose power with this hurricane, although my Internet and cable television did go out about 8:30 pm and didn't come back on until this morning. In general my neighborhood is fine as well, but I'm one of the lucky ones. About 15 people have died. Millions of people are without power, and the devastation is far and wide throughout NY and NJ especially. Sections of Queens are flooded, other areas devastated by fires. Apparently Asbury Park (where the boys & I spent some fun summer afternoons) lost its boardwalk and the restaurants and shops there are all seriously damaged. Subway tunnels are flooded to their ceilings in some cases, and they're thinking it will take 4 to 5 days before subways are running normally again. The Battery and Holland tunnels are also flooded and still closed. Lower Manhattan below 30th St. is in total darkness. In fact, the picture I took this morning from the Brooklyn side of the East River shows lower Manhattan and Jersey City in the distance. It's eerie to see no activity or lights. But the clean-up has begun, slowly but surely, and people will have to be patient. I'm supposed to be heading to Florida in a few days but there's no word yet as to when officially the airports will reopen. Nature clearly knows who's the boss and has taught us a lesson.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sandy Arriving

Although it seems like southern New Jersey near Atlantic City may get hit with the eye of the hurricane, we're all feeling the brunt of his huge storm (image: NASA). The wind gusts have been increasing and the rain, though not severe, has been steady. The worst of it is supposed to start this evening and into tonight. The biggest fear seems to be flooding for all coastal areas, as later the high tide with the full moon is going to make the onrush of waves even more severe. On the latest news report, I heard winds were sustained at 90mph and there were recorded gusts of up to 70mph at JFK already. The wind has already toppled a crane on top of the new tallest residential building at 57th Street & 6th Avenue. The crane is dangling off the building, so they're in the process of evacuating that neighborhood right now. My friends and I are all as prepared as we can be, waiting it out in our own homes. I'm grading papers this afternoon, although we have received word that classes have been canceled for tomorrow, which makes sense since there is no word yet as to when the MTA will be reopening the subways and starting bus service again. I'm also pigging out on a cinnamon streusel cake I made Saturday night...having now devoured 2/3rds of it. Hopefully the power won't go off, but you never know. We will see what happens...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sandy on Her Way

I haven't blogged lately because I've been so busy, but the impending arrival of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy seems worthy of commentary, as it was 14 months ago when I blogged about Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene heading our way. It seems a bit bizarre to me that after having lived in Florida for a number of years, I'm going through 2 hurricanes in NYC. Then again, we've also had 2 tornadoes touch down in Brooklyn in the past year, and a snowstorm in October 2011. Nah, there's no weather shift or global warming going on! Pa-lease! Anyway, I spent yesterday afternoon chilling out with AA and hundreds of other NYers in Washington Square Park just going about our business like nothing was happening, but I did my emergency supply shopping for food in the evening, as you can see below. And, yes, those are the same Santeria candles I bought last year. Hey, they worked! The MTA is planning to shut down the subway system later today, and since this is such a large, slow-moving storm, we may be feeling it for a few days. We will see how things go!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Barbra in Brooklyn Has Arrived!

It never ceases to amaze me how fast time flies. It was only five months ago in May when I announced that I had gotten tickets to see Barbra Streisand perform here in Brooklyn. That day has now arrived. And I'm still quite freaking excited! Timed with the concert is Barbra's new album, Release Me (cover image above), a collection of previously unreleased recordings from 1963 to the present. I listened to it for the first time tonight, and some of the songs have that Broadway sound, others her crooning '70s sound (which I like), but I think I need to listen to them a few more times to fully appreciate them. Included is the song "Home" from The Wiz. I have no doubt she'll be singing that at the concert. Brooklyn is, after all, her hometown. You can download the album from iTunes or Amazon.