Yesterday we trooped up to the Met Museum to see the “Jerusalem” show before it closes on January 7. We drove: a wise decision, because the line at the main entrance (lengthened by bag-checking) stretched down Fifth Avenue from 82nd to 79th, whereas getting in from the parking garage was a piece of cake. Inside the museum was a zoo; T remarked that the Met better build some new Ladies Rooms: these lines stretched back into the galleries. “Jerusalem” itself is remarkable, both aesthetically, historically and intellectually. It concentrates on the period 1100-1400, and on the cultural and artistic influences on the sacred city of its Jewish, Christian and Muslim populations, each of which regards it among its holiest of holies. I would have liked to have had a better sense of how things went prior to 1100, from the Crucifixion and Resurrection, the emergence of The Prophet Mohammed halfway along, and the burial of the Elders of Hebron. Still, if you can get there, do! My only reservations have to do with the lack of seating (my orthopedically-challenged knees were complaining by the third gallery) and the lighting. The latter is dim, presumably to convey a sense of the sacred, but some of the labels are hard to read – and the character of the material on display requires that they be read. If you have a fork lift, order the catalogue, and read up on “Jerusalem” after you’ve seen the exhibition and have a sense of what’s what.
1. This has to be a candidate for anyone’s “Worst of 1916” list. A most repellent article about a most repellent personality. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/12/30/celebrity-designer-dennis-basso-on-his-1-million-fur-boutique-robbery-and-why-he-s-proud-to-dress-melania-trump.html?via=newsletter&source=DDAfternoon Although this runs a close second. http://www.wsj.com/articles/shoe-storage-fit-for-an-art-gallery-1482947099 Based on her husband’s comments, I would advise this lady – I’m speaking inferentially, of course – not to introduce him to Dennis Basso if she ever wants to see him again.
2. Noo Yawk…Noo Yawk…the Bloomberg Gospel and its effects: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/12/when-a-business-you-like-dies.html
3. A nice note on which to approach year-end, especially since the way Fixers was published and promoted almost guaranteed that it would sink like a stone. This is an email from a friend who, take it from me, is a person of unchallenged high standing in the republic of letters:
Dear Michael: I just wanted to reassure you that I have been reading your book and getting great pleasure and entertainment from it. I’m about a hundred pages from the end. Your grasp of the milieu is positively Trollopian. I also get a sense that I’m reading an inside history of the last decade, with increasing uneasiness and distress. Anyway, it’s a fascinating novel–just wanted you to know I’m enjoying it.
Happy New Year,
4. The thoughts of two fine thinkers/writers coalesce: https://baselinescenario.com/2016/12/30/a-change-is-in-the-air/#more-15804
6. Needs no comment; http://www.ianwelsh.net/book-review-of-dark-age-ahead-by-jane-jacobs/
7. Good to know there’ll be a cool finger on the nuclear trigger at this end come Jan.20. On the other hand, I have this picture of the current president channelling F Scott F’s “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz”, perched atop the Capitol dome trying to talk the Russian – or Chinese, or No. Korean – missiles out of the sky. http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/world-war-three-by-mistake