Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Boston 27.5.1992: Pisarro Corrected and Dark Passages

In Boston (Watertown, actually) staying with Ellen F. We arrived yesterday afternoon, had dinner at a restaurant called La Piccola Venezia (not memorable) in the North End, and then came back to her townhouse to drink a glass of wine and chat.

+ + + + +

Now sitting in a coffee shop on Mass. Ave. We both had to use the bathroom so badly, and couldn’t find one. Fearing we’d not be allowed unless we bought coffee, we’re now having some.

Spent the morning in desultory shopping at Harvard Square, going to Wordsworth Books, where I found inter alia a John Berger book, And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos, that looks wonderful. Then went to the Fogg Museum, which now houses the Busch-Reisinger, which is what I really wanted to see.

I wasn’t bowled over by much—all was very helter-skelter. I noticed that the little wall sign for one Pisarro painting, which had said, “Danish, worked in France,” had all but “France” scratched out, and no one seemed to want to fix it. Boston the high, Boston the mighty, goes the way of all flesh?

Then a walk down (up?) Broadway to Portland to a Japanese noodle house for lunch. As we got up Broadway, I began to see more and more black faces. Then I saw a barbershop called Le Bon Samaritain, and realized we were in a Haitian restaurant.

Lunch good—soba and fishcake with fried soybean curd and snowpeas. I hotted mine up considerably. But how loud people are in the Northeast. A woman next to me in a sometimes Buffalo, sometimes New York accent, talking (towkink) about how all families are dysfunctional. And here a ponytailed man loudly making a business deal and spouting psychobabble.

I’m no prize, I reckon: ever the grouch.

Bought two nice Käthe Kollwitz prints, matted, at Harvard Coop—a mother and child, and two men embracing. Is nice a word one can apply to Käthe Kollwitz?

And through it all, such a sense of finality, of loss, of keen sharp pangs that I’m in a dark passage and won’t return—at least unscathed, unchanged. A month ago, 28th April, someone stuffed all the faculty mailboxes at Belmont Abbey with right-wing tripe, a magazine that I suspect may even be paid for by government money—an in-your-face warning that this school belongs and will continue to belong to the hard right. I continue to feel totally unwelcome there.

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