3:15 p.m. Oppressively humid. Feeling like a character in a Tennessee Williams play hanging in the darkened bedroom in my underwear. All very chaste. Reading The New Yorker, a long, mesmerizing piece by Janet Malcolm on her observations of a murder trial in Queens. The uses of a heat wave. Pleasant to lie face down on the bed, ceiling fan stirring a breeze overhead, listening to radio, turning the pages.
6:15 p.m. Up in the aerie, back from a lecture in downtown Hudson about the epic battles in NYC real estate development history between Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs. The two speakers, Roberta Brandes Gratz and Mary Rowe, were individually on close personal and professional terms with Jane Jacobs in her years in Toronto (she left New York City in the late 1960s, according to an A to a Q.) Rowe read from the epilogue to What We See, a vivid, well-observed, and beautifully written remembrance that she wrote entitled "Jane's Cup of Tea." As I said to D in the car on the way home, I hate to use Emily Dickinson as a bludgeon but Jane Jacobs reminds me of her. Okay, that was poorly phrased I know. (I'm articulate and prolix writing - but am often at a loss for words, tongue-tied even, when I speak. I believe that people who meet me after having read my stuff are confused by that. I am too, frankly. I'm very disquisitive in my dreams.)
What I meant about Jane Jacobs was that Rowe described her as fiercely original, rigorous yet unpredictable, unsentimental, extremely observant - all qualities that are so rare and that I so admire. Reading Death and Life of Great American Cities (along with books by another great observer of how people actually use public spaces, William Whyte) inspired me to pursue my masters in urban planning. And I am still fascinated and in tune with their ideas. My experience was working in a top/down Moses world, and fighter that I am I simply didn't have the fortitude. Ah, whatever. Now I'm a poet. Do you know that I actually put that down when I signed our federal tax return? Actually, that seemed to me to be inflating it a bit, though I didn't imagine that the IRS would challenge it. (Really, ma'am - are you published? Let's see some verse.) I'm more of a poetic letter writer - cross-genre. "That's poet," ruled D in the car yesterday, after telling me about a Chris Noth interview he'd heard on WAMC. Turns out Chris Noth is big on poetry too. We're thinking poetry - broadly defined - is making a comeback.
I wore my nice new outfit to the lecture. Oh, and I want to say that all morning long (such as on my walk at the buggy conservation area) I was plotting ways to get myself down to NYBG to hear Mr. Charyn. I feel very flattered that his Facebook organizer Lenore (as far as I can figure) seems to enjoy my posts as they happen to glance aslant Mr. Charyn... I thought, if I can get the car maybe I can drive down to Wassaic and take the train straight to NYBG. But that involved not one but two transfers, plus time & expense. Okay, so I'll drive to MetroNorth in Southeast... Just untenable, a long drive followed by a train ride - fun! fun! fun! on the drive down, but the long drive back after dark would be treacherous (did I mention that KZE got interrupted for a tornado warning signal "effective to 8 p.m. for the following counties" including mine?). Then, I thought well maybe D can rearrange his schedule (which he was willing to do) and we'll drive down for the lecture, and I'll meet Mr. Charyn and Lenore and whoever else...
But it was all a bit much, too hot, too last minute. So I went to the Moses & Jacobs talk instead.
Maybe that was the smart thing to do. As Gratz touched on in the Jacobsian talk today, there is strong cross-fertilization between NYC and Paris and Warren Street, Hudson. Okay, she didn't mention Paris... but I think of the12534 and his evident Parisian connection (where's he been anyway, hope he's fine, along with Marina and her humanely-treated snakeskins), and Mr. Charyn with his. It wouldn't surprise me if he might be enticed to make an appearance at the Hudson Opera House (to which I believe that G., just over the county line from Stuyvesant) might also be able to attend.
Or - and perhaps more realistically - I really hope that he might appear at The Homestead in Amherst - now, that would be perfect.