A light shines in Brooklyn

I dragged my wife + daughters to Pioneer Works, a warehouse in Brooklyn, for Anthony McCall’s Solid Light Works; four light pieces oriented vertically in a large space and two shining horizontally in smaller spaces. A mist hangs in the air so the beams are visible.

These shapes are not static. They slowly expand and contract, but too slowly, imho. You can barely detect any movement.

Standing in the middle of a horizontally-oriented light cone produces stark, interesting shadows.

These pics aren’t great because iPhones still can’t handle low-light photography. Why don’t I just get a proper camera?

My girls think I’m eccentric. They tolerate these sojourns but are bored by them. No matter. As long as I have something to say about it, they’ll continue to see this stuff.

Light is my favorite medium. My all-time favorite installations are James Turrell at the Guggenheim and Duke Riley’s illuminated pigeons in New York Harbor.


May 25, 1993

The final episode of Cheers was broadcast on Thursday. Apparently, all of America tuned in. Tens of millions of people. But I couldn’t think of anything drearier than sitting in an empty apartment with my broken heart watching TV alone, so Cindy and I walked up to Brownies on Avenue A and 11th to see Pete’s band. I had a few scotch and sodas and felt much better. I forgot to think about Laura for a few hours.

Afterwards, we hung outside and chatted with a big group of people. I made Cindy laugh, which I love. She’s got a beautiful laugh. Pete’s wife wants me to play on their kickball team. Cindy’s obnoxious friend, Ruth, kept trying to talk to me.

I needed to get my head and heart out of Manhattan for a day so I took a train to Philly. The Philadelphia Museum of Art has a Pissarro exhibit. It’s a gathering of his French urban paintings. First time this series has been seen together since his death. $8.50 admission! The Met is free!

I called Karen. [Note: An old girlfriend who lived there. She broke my heart, too. They all did.] She seemed genuinely happy to hear from me and said she could meet me for lunch because, “Someone is working all day.” I told Oswaldo I was meeting her and he couldn’t stop laughing. Then he called me a pussy.

She picked me up at the train station and drove to TGI Friday’s. TGI Friday’s. I think she’s getting a little soft around the middle but I liked it. She lives with a man and the gloss is off. All the usual reasons. Boredom. Financial strain. Diminished affections. When she spoke of her horrors, she would look at me dead center. Hard. Unblinking. She has the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen. It was hypnotizing and a little unsettling.

I told her the good and bad stuff happening to me. She spoke of mainly bad things. A night of drunken sex resulted in an abortion. Not surprisingly, things haven’t been the same since. She seemed deeply hurt so I told her what she needed to hear; that she’s clever, fun to be with and beautiful (two out of three truths). That her boyfriend is punching above his weight class and is lucky to have her. That he doesn’t deserve her and will be sorry when she’s gone. As I said these things, a sorrowful expression drew across her face like a shadow.

We finished eating and walked back to her car. She was dropping me off at the museum. I was glad she wasn’t joining me. She would’ve been bored and try to rush me through the exhibit. Once in her passenger seat, I pulled her towards me and kissed her. She responded. I still can’t believe that someone so pretty is willing to kiss me. After a bit she pushed me away and said she felt guilty kissing one man while living with another. She said she hasn’t been kissed like that in a long while. That makes two of us. Kissing her is interesting. Her mouth is soft and kind of wide.

I rested my hand on her leg as she drove to the museum. She was wearing shorts. Her legs were incredibly smooth, like she had just shaved them. She accidentally ran a red light and laughed about it. She pulled up in front of the museum and we kissed some more. I told her to keep in touch, let me know how things worked out and wished her well. I jumped out of the car, walked up the stone staircase and didn’t look back.

47 thoughts on “A light shines in Brooklyn

      • I don’t see it as caddish behaviour either — as much as I like that word. How are people ever supposed to express affection and desire if we wait for year after year until we’re “available”? It was an afternoon of mutual attraction and kindness against the background of a relationship that’s clearly run its course. I wonder if they split up soon after that?

      • Neither one of us was in a very good spot. We were both wounded. It was an island of comfort in a sea of abject misery. I never saw her again after that. I wish I knew what happened to her the same way I wish I knew what happened to ALL the girls I was fond of. I guess that’s what facebook is for.

  1. As Mark said above, your girls will later appreciate these exhibit stops. I bet they’ll look back on them fondly and share stories every time they get together. “Remember that time Dad took us to…”

  2. That exhibit looks mesmerizing. I recall just a few years ago how you reflected on your kids’ time in the museums and that they enjoyed it. But now they gotta find their own thing. They’ll come around…they always do….you’ll be dead when it finally happens, but no matter. 😉

    And, man, if you ever want to figure out how to get passes into Roden Crater, I want to go with you. I saw Turrell speak at UVA one time. Drove down from WDC just to hear him. The man is working with scales of perception that are seriously irrelevant to anybody living today….

  3. Your daughters will not only remember these visits fondly, but they’ll drag their kids to the same thing.

    I had so many “Karens” in my past that it’s frightening to think about. Replace the names and city with mine and it’s the same exact story. I’m so glad I’m not young anymore. – Marty

    • Don’t remember them for certain. But fondly? We’ll see.

      The human condition is loaded with these common plot threads that bind us all together. Common experiences are what makes us feel normal. It turns out we’re not crazy. What a relief.

  4. Are the daughters really bored? Or is it a natural teenage condition. Anyway keep it up.
    I always thought light exhibits were a joke used in Sex and the City. But you have presented several over the years and showed me how real and interesting they can be. Thanks for making me aware of different Art. It’s not just Whistler’s Mother anymore!

    • I hate to say this but I think they’re genuinely bored. Perhaps he’ll grow into it. In the meantime, don’t continue to suffer these exhibits for as long as I’m around.

      I don’t get your sex and the city reference although I did watch the show. If you excuse me, I’m off to YouTube.

      • In the last season, Carrie was involved with an artist, Mikhail Baryshinikov who obsessed over his light installation exhibit. They never showed it but you could see light flashes and shadows through an open arch, simulating some kind of work.
        In your reply who is ‘he’ll grow into it’ and who is ‘continuing to suffer’?

      • I remember the Baryshinikov plot thread but I don’t recall the installation. It’s a pity they never actually showed the exhibit. They could’ve done something fun. The blew it.

        My response is a typo. Perhaps *they’ll* grow into it. In the meantime, *they’ll* continue to suffer… I occasionally post using my iPhone instead of my laptop. That leads to all sorts of autocorrect havoc.

  5. Maybe the daughters would like the new light installation ELSEWHERE, in Bushwick Brooklyn. It is done by the old GLASSLANDS people.
    Your killing me with these past girlfriend stories. Because it reminds me of myself many years ago.
    Must be an Ohio thing.

  6. Interesting that you consider light your favorite medium. Philistine that I am, I never even considered that an art medium. I guess my Elvis-on-black-velvet tastes in art are just a bit more pedestrian than yours.
    Nonetheless, gotta say I think that installation looks very cool, even with the low light situation.

    • I never knew you could bend light into art until I went to a Blue Oyster Cult concert in 1980 and saw a killer laser light show. They bounced a beam off of a rotating mirrored disco ball and the concert hall filled with laser light particles. They had to stop doing that because it turned out some people were suffering retina damage. But it looked so cool! It stayed with me.

  7. I do believe i’d quite enjoy that installation seeing as it’s conducive with some of my favorite pastimes (ie: strong weed and good mushrooms) i’d need some Spacemen 3 on the headphones to make it complete…

    and i do love the rationalization of telling Karen what she needed to hear, i call that advanced animal instinct, you sensed opportunity so why not investigate? i’d have asked if she was down for a quickie in the back seat before shuffling off to the museum, just in case, i’m classy like that lol!!

    • I told the guy working there that I was going to come back without my family in tow and a big fatty in my pocket. Different exhibit, there.

      Well, yes, I saw an opening and took it. She was incredibly beautiful. But I want some humanitarian props, as well. She had the blue blues and needed to hear something nice. I really did just want to make her feel a little better about herself. She seemed to be kind of beaten-down to me.

  8. You know what I notice in the old journals? In whatever you were doing, you were almost always in the company of women. I never hear the entry that went, “So me and Steve went over to the bar.” It’s always girls everywhere. Or is it just that the stories with girls around are the ones more worth posting? I know those are the ones I look forward to the most so maybe so. Whatever happened to Ruth the annoying friend?

    • I get along with women a lot better than men. I’ve never really had a lot of guy friends. Still don’t. In high school, I talked to a lot of girls and was mistakenly thought of as a player but I was nothing of the sort. I was too scared to lay a hand on any of them. But I did like chatting them up. And I don’t think they felt threatened. They smelled my fear.

  9. (when you look at the stats for your page and wonder “why was she (me) here so long” it’s because I was cooking and walked away.)

    I keep telling you, sweetpea, the girls will be happy one day that they had these experiences! I look at our krewe now and they 2 with kids have museum memberships and ALWAYS go. Super Nana and Mr Matrix took the 5 year old to the Broad in Santa Monica and she loved it! She told her mother that she didn’t like Basquiat because he did “scribble scrabble” but she did like “Ruchscha , Warhol, Jasper Johns and lichentenstein” The Capt and Stretch take Big Boy Chaos to his favorites, the Natural History, and the Science Museum. It sticks even with teenagers. 😉

    Re: Karen, you did what needed to be done for a friend. The kisses probably helped her more than you thought! xoxo

    • Do you know what? I’ve stopped looking at my stats. I honestly don’t bother anymore. I used to obsess over them (like we all do at one point or another) but I’m free of that. It was tedious and lead nowhere.

      Man, would love to go to the Broad. Have you been? I’m okay if kids reject art later in life, it’s almost expected, but when they’re young, they should be shown that world. There’s enough ugly stuff. Show them some beauty.

      I think I briefly cheered Karen up. I’m like a doctor! The kissing didn’t hurt me, either. Just sayin’. My motivations aren’t *purely* altruistic.

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