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Picasso in Seattle

October 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Portrait of Olga in an Armchair, Fall 1918

Many years ago, back when I used to pass through Paris frequently, I had a wonderful visit to the Musée Picasso. Growing up in New York, I had seen more than my share of Picasso’s work, at the Museum of Modern Art. But the chronological selection of his paintings and sculpture at Musée Picasso was a revelation, providing a seemingly comprehensive, wide-ranging selection. I imagined I would be back soon. Alas, over 25 years later, I’ve never returned.

The Picasso museum is in the midst of a three-year closure for renovation, thanks to which part of its collection has come to Seattle for an exhibition that opened last week at the Seattle Art Museum. We received invitations to a series of opening events, all of which we had missed until last night, when we went to a showing for members in some category or another. I was surprised by how crowded it was. We will need to return, preferably at some low-attendance time, if there is one.

As much as I enjoyed the show, it could hardly be a second revelation. For one, there is only a small fraction of the works I saw in Paris years ago. For another, my long ago visit to the Musée Picasso was on a quiet weekday morning. I could go wherever I wanted, linger as long as I wished, view paintings alone, follow the chronological path and double back as often as I pleased. The Seattle exhibition is again chronological, but everything was so crowded. And then there was the curse of the audio tour. Wherever a painting was marked with a tour number, crowds would form. The problem is that people stay put for however long the audio remarks take, even if the work itself is no longer being discussed. And the auditors tend to cluster in a respectful semi-circle with a large radius, so no one can get close without getting in their way. It’s inevitable. Put on a headset and you end up doing the same thing. The remarks were often quite informative, with our own local boy made good, Chuck Close, serving as guest commentator. Who wouldn’t want to hear Close on Picasso? But if instead of listening you wanted to look, it could be frustrating.

We’ll simply need to go back, this time sans audio tour and preferably sans people.

Categories: Art

Enormous Consequences

October 17, 2010 Leave a comment

You’ll want to check out this useful site. (Hat tip: Glenn Greenwald.)

As background, federal district court judge Virginia Phillips issued an injunction last Tuesday ordering the US military to stop enforcing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, following up on her September 9 decision declaring DADT unconstitutional. Despite the support of President Obama and the Pentagon for a repeal of DADT, the Justice Department has asked Judge Phillips to stay her decision while they file an appeal, with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates expressing concern that abruptly reversing DADT would have “enormous consequences for our troops.” The NYT noted in an editorial today that “the administration made overheated claims that a precipitous change in wartime would have adverse effects on morale, good order, discipline and unit cohesion.”

Thanks to the site linked to at the top, we can keep track of the enormous consequences so far of staying DADT. The site provides a handy table listing reported incidents of unit cohesion problems, disciplinary problems, resignations, and privacy problems. As I write, 128 hours, 56 minutes, and 53 seconds after the lifting of DADT, the number in each category is 0.

129 hours now. Still 0 incidents.

Categories: Law, Politics

Worth Dying For

October 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Lee Child’s 15th Jack Reacher thriller, Worth Dying For, comes out on Tuesday. I didn’t block out a day on my calendar this week, so I’m not sure what to do. Dare I start it Tuesday night? Must I wait for next weekend? I don’t know the answers. What I do know is that once I start it, I’ll have a heck of a time putting it down.

Usually there’s a year between novels, but 61 Hours (which I wrote about here), came out in May, and it seems that the two form a linked pair. I could try putting the new one aside until May, having been conditioned to a year’s wait. Had I been really desperate, I would have ordered it from UK Amazon, since the British edition was published at the end of September. I could have had it days ago.

My bet is that I’ll start it Tuesday night, read a little bit each night through Friday, then finish it Saturday. More later.

Categories: Books

I’m Back

October 17, 2010 Leave a comment

In case you’ve been looking for me. Not that I went anywhere. But I seem to be having a hard time writing now that I’m back on a regular work schedule, as noted here the last day that I posted. I’m not sure how to re-work my schedule to ensure that I blog regularly. There’s always the weekend. But last weekend, I worked most of Saturday night and Sunday on a major project with a Tuesday morning deadline. This weekend, I was busy all day yesterday. And now the weekend is almost over. I’m having no trouble thinking of topics for posts. I just don’t write them, and then after enough days pass, the moment has passed.

I could try having shorter posts. That’s the plan tonight. Here goes.

Categories: Blog