Trips back to Brookline over the last few years have largely been spent in and around my mother’s kitchen. When we’re not eating there, food is being prepared for the inevitable guests. Then there is clean-up and dishwashing after they’ve left. I’ve drawn and painted bits and pieces of this room many times. This time the wall of knives caught my eye. So many tools, implements, time, and serving-wear are required to host the parade of visitors which comes through my parents’ home. It’s quite a contrast to how I’ve lived over the last year. Lop off a couple fingers and you could still count the number of people who’ve darkened my doorstep on one hand.

I took the Chinatown bus to New York City for a day and spent most of it walking. From Chinatown I went up Bowery to Union Square for coffee with a friend, then turned west and walked all the way to the new Whitney. The building didn’t make much of an impression, but I shared the elevator with Sarah Jessica Parker and a couple minutes of the Frank Stella retrospective with F.Murray Abraham. Seeing Edward Hopper’s “Early Sunday Morning” again was worth the price of admission, even without the celebrity Jew sightings.

After a forgettable slice of pepperoni pizza somewhere on 9th Avenue, I continued uptown to MoMa for the Picasso sculpture show. I’ve disliked his work for as long as I can remember. The reasons are too many to bore you with, but suffice it to say that I find most of his pictures airless and so glutted with his ego that there’s little room to breathe or to feel much of anything. This show, however, is a knockout. As with his 2-D work, the best stuff was done in the teens during his Cubist period. But there are things worth looking at in nearly every room and the fact that there’s little extraneous wall text enhances the viewing experience immeasurably. The galleries were packed, yet unlike the Matisse cut-outs show which was nearly unviewable because of the flood of guided-tour zombies, somehow there was both room and time to linger. His metal and wood riffs on guitars and violins in the Cubist room were my favorites. On my second time through that room a young couple came up next to me and the guy told his girl in his grave Russian voice, “So…this is how the man sees a guitar…”

I walked to the Lower East Side for dinner with friends at Veselka, then back to Chinatown to catch the bus to Boston. 

—Before my trip I binge-watched the new Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer. If you haven’t seen it I’d highly recommend it. So much so that I wrote about it for the Chicago Reader.