...is the traditional Japanese art of flower arranging. It has not been something I have sought out with any great passion, though I used to see a shrink who did Ikebana himself and displayed his works on the waiting room coffee table, in the hallways and other rooms in his rabbit warren of offices. He was a big, clumsy-looking guy with a bad haircut and a banker's bay window of a gut, not the sort you'd imagine easing a lily into calligraphic curves over a flat container of water and river pebbles.
As I was saying, I wandered up to Wave Hill in the northwest Bronx partly to sate my curiosity after receiving a postcard about a Contemporary Ikebana exhibit there, "Perfection / Impermanence," and partly because Wave Hill is just a really nice place to be on a muggy summer day. Sitting in one of their lawn chairs reading a novel under one of the spread's giant copper beach trees is, I can tell you, the cat's meow. I can look up and catch a glimpse of the Hudson racing flat and brown to the sea at the base of the Palisades. I can pretend I am former resident,Toscanini, with a young wife; or another famed occupant, Mark Twain, just before his wife became ill.
I can pretend to be an art maven and look in on their tiny Glyndor Gallery, see something usually related to nature in an off-kilter way.
And off-kilter it was, I must say. It was--pardonnez moi--part circus, part protest, part Buddhist-Shintoist footnote, on and sometimes off the mark. Circus???? Sorry, to me that describes Ryusada Matsuda's From Roses - three sisters in a house surrendering to the passage of time: we have three headless mannikins with evening gown-like dresses flowing on and around them. First the dresses appear pink and then they fade to a deep, though dull, red as, we are told in the program, the weeks go by. I caught it at the curdled blood stage, and the dullness of the material and its color made the fabric look sort of like the stuff cheap paper felt ribbons are made of. It was (here comes the circus part) virtuoso execution. You would never know the dresses were covered with crushed red rose petals, save for some red powder around each skirt--too well-done, so well-done that the faux-felt aspect was its all. Superb, technically; beyond that? enhh.
Out in the sun porch, though, was a whimsical conglomeration of various bright red articles of clothing stuffed into a wigwam-like frame, set on dead leaves, inside of which was an altar. Nothing like a sensahuma! I could even be a kid again, stepping into my secret hideout.
Another piece was a kind of grim, Eeyore's house, a pile of dead branches and camo stacked against the outside back porch of Glyndor House--"a reminder of the impossibility of concealing war," on the part of creator Gaho Taniguchi. The heavy-handedness of the camouflage, in my humble opinion, seemed a somewhat humorless way to use a form which, almost by definition, strives for subtlety.
Ima save the best two for the last. Un, Teika Itoh's installation--evidently nameless--was made entirely of ferns--steams, leaves, powdered leaves, its extended stems bound at their junctions by fern leaves, a delicate and bulbous spheroid thing hanging down, shapes as slight as a breath of air, which, amazingly, we were permitted to walk through. Wow!
Deux and en fin, or premiere, depending on how you move around a gallery, were Keisen Hama's two bamboo critters hanging from the ceiling of the entryway: they weren't dragons. But they could have been--the piece is titled Tokky Comes to New York - Kissho Dragon. They weren't serpents--they could also have been? Flying Komodo lizards? Of course they did not have to "be" anything; in almost Zen-like fashion they were the energetic essence of saurian grace. "Ki" the program explains--"Chi," Tai Ch'i-ists would say. I confess, I wouldn't mind having one of those in my living room.
(When asked, a colleague thought I should spell this word, "h-o-o-c-k-y.") This is not so. However, I was driven in turn to the Oxford Universal Dictionary, its pages rippling in the damp meat locker cool of my air conditioned office. No "hoocky," and no "hooky". Two definitions of "hooker" struck me, though: "One or that which hooks--" and btw, not one off-color definition of the verb, "to hook"--and either a two-masted Dutch fishing boat, a "one-masted fishing smack on the Irish coast, similar to a hoy [small Dutch coastal ship, loaded with passengers and goods, like a sloop--misread by this writer as "buoy"] in build," or finalmente also applied "depreciatively or fondly to a ship...." This latter definition is associated with the date "1823" (will someone please tell me why?) and seafaring: hence, the Lady of the Night who greets the Old Salt just docked in the harbor....
Where was I?
Well, this AM, sitting between a British ornithologist and a lank Texan escritor, both built decidedly on the vertical scale, both budding fans of Sumo--most assuredly a bit more horizontal in flava. Perhaps thoughts seafaring came from discussing the pre-Moby Dick> Melville novel, Mardi, and the habits of birds in troubled times: "They hoodle," says mein freunde Ornithologistiche (imagine a Liverpool accent here), handing over a cookie with a puffin painted on it. Penguins Unite! Penguinos unidos, jamas [seran] vencidos! "Say hoy to the Hirish hooker who hoodles..."(Never mind--)
I goofed, bleeped up. Lo, it 'twas not Gary Giddings--but GIDDINS, la ultima "g" no hay--ningun, nada. Desculpame, or--I love it!--literally, "unfault me"--undo those chay-chay- chay-a-a-a-ains, those chains of ... Fo'give me. Still I do not recant regarding my concern about the proper libations to the appropriate bebop divines.
But I really AM playing hoo-ky and must to work. A'dieu, dear reader whoever, whereever, if you ever, are...
Avanti Populo...dada dadada da...avapvfopuli [2:58 p. m.]
In my meanderings in the winkin and blinkin kingdom of blog, I ran across a nit pickin at the term itself, that is a pickin at the dear old clunky and very anglo-saxon--no, magyar-hungarian, um, slovenian, russo-turko-byallmeansnecessarian--word "blog". One person wrote-- my, my-- "I use 'weblog' whenever I can." Pardonnez-moi, but la-ti-dah.
I declare-'ear ye, 'ear ye!--'ere and meow! I d'eclai-uh, I loves the word blog! It has that clandestine feel, that slightly crepuscular, wee hours of the night with too many cigarette butts (would that I could but I can't any more) in the ashtray, a little too much amontillado, the heat not functioning quite properly--the tone sepia, the sounds brittle then still. Ahh! a selection of Andre Breton or maybe Vallejo on a low table...the smell of onions, garlic, forbidden flesh planked and sizzling... In the background, Astor Piazzolla lurches into Milonga para Tres... poor mad Bud Powell enters his Invisible Cage, Like Someone in Love...
Blog gracelessly does not end with a vowel, like French, or like Spanish. (Tis a poor thing but mine own.) Reminds me of "Vlad" a tall blonde transvestite radical who I used to see hanging out at the local coffee shop, primping. Is not respectable, vaunteth not itself up, misses the elegant, lets its slip show, belches at the dinner table, tracks mud into the house--whah Ah jes think it's fahn, jes the way youwah, hunney! A blogisablog isablog, une glob, une blogette, magog y bla-gog?avapvfopuli [1:39 a. m.]