After a successful and productive Art Cloth Network meeting in New Brunswick (with a day-long Manhattan museum adventure on Friday) Susan Ettl and I returned to the Big Apple today and took a whirlwind trip around the world -- from Penn Station we went first through (eating at a Japanese/Korean cafe of course) Korea Town, then bused down to Washington Square, taking in a park filled with sun-loving tennis fans watching the live action on a big screen. Then we walked down through Soho (now the land of glitzy boutiques where once my artist friends and I slept on sleeping bags in big unfinished lofts), stopping in at a wonderful Indian import store, then to Canal, perused the bag and pashmina vendors over to Tribeca, back to China Town (dollar stores and housewares, joss paper and interesting items for soywax batik) anda small park on Bayard -- I think Columbus Square -- which was just about as close as one can get to China without crossing an ocean (two live Chinese operas, simultaneously, martial arts practice and many, many tables of card and game players), then back north through Little Italy to catch a little Latin Jazz improv back in Washington Square, and back on the bus to Penn Station. Once back in New Brunswick, we ate dinner at an elegant Ethiopian restaurant, a first for both of us. (injira, the flat crepe-ish fermented flour bread is amazing).
We experienced at least five distinct cultures, not counting the tennis and jazz, the youth culture of our college campus bus ride back to the inn, and the almost overwhelmingly melange of languages, fashion, faces that are the "culture" of New York City. I ran out of battery power for my iphone camera about half way through, but these shots will remind me of the inspiration of this big, beautiful, American city.
Postscript: I recently promised my brother-in-law Chai (Dr. Israel Cuellar, PhD, noted scholar, research psychologist, novelist and Chicano activist/scholar) that I would be "tasting" for him, as his ALS had made it necessary for him to give up the pleasures of "real food." All the flavors of today -- the physical, the emotional, the tactile, the movement and light and space, the visual feast -- I dedicate to his memory. Chai left his body late this afternoon, after the most valiant, brave and powerful encounter of a relentless disease that I have ever witnessed. I had the privilege to work with him as an editor for his novel (soon to be published), The Barrida Cure, that he wrote as his final creative challenge and accomplishment over the past four years.
My prayers are with his soul and spirit, at last free from suffering, and with Linda, his sister, and with all the family.