October 18th, 2023

Sometimes silence is golden

For Artnet News, I wrote an opinion piece headlined as:

Enough With the Solidarity Statements. Why Art Institutions Should Stop Taking Positions on Geopolitical Events They Have Nothing to Do With

I am grateful to Artnet for their quick response and helpful edits, and very happy to have this published. I think (alas) that as an issue, this is not going away any time soon.

September 29th, 2017

Veterans for Kaepernick

I find Yom Kippur to be a very personal holiday. Not that there aren’t things for which we all might atone in relation to how the outside world functions; kindness in all spheres would certainly make the world a better place. For me, the process of atoning typically means trying to peel myself back from the news and events of the world, from the constant political sniping, and from social media, in order to spend time really thinking about myself, my flaws, and my relationships with the people I care about.

But in typical “just catching up to this” fashion, I just came across the Twitter hashtag . It feels appropriate to call it out on the eve of Yom Kippur, to say thank you to those who have served this country, and in doing so see themselves as protecting the rights of Americans to express themselves, and the rights of Americans to stand up — or kneel — in order to make a point about injustice in our society.

The flag (any flag) is a symbol, and symbols can be powerful; anthems, too, for rousing our emotions. But we should venerate ideas and values, not symbols and anthems. Freedom of speech, and freedom from injustice, are values that can exist under our flag or others–just as there are plenty of nations where flags and anthems receive great and deep respect … but freedom of speech, or simple justice, are both absent.

So thank you, veterans. I did not serve in the military, but I am incredibly grateful to those who did, and for those of you who are brave enough to carry that service forward by supporting peaceful protest. Happy new year and may you, too, be inscribed in the Book of Life for another year.

September 25th, 2016

Temps Perdu

I have this lovely set of rose-colored glasseware that I inherited from my grandparents. Twelve glasses in each of three sizes–for water, wine, and cordials–plus a similar number of small dessert bowls. They’re likely Bohemian and could be late-19th century in origin. All I know is: they were always there.

As with many people’s inherited objects, these glasses have a totemic power for me. They remind of special family events, Seder foremost among them, when I would help my grandmother set the table. Even as a young kid, she trusted me to carefully extract each glass from the cabinet, a responsibility I cherished.

rose-colored-glassesBut these glasses also remind me of something more basic and differently nostalgic: of a lifestyle that I can remember, and one that also feels long gone.

My grandparents used these glasses on other occasions, such as dinner parties with good friends or out-of-town guests. They were one set among a range of such objects, like the hand-etched pint glasses from Abercrombie & Fitch (yes, that A&F, in its original incarnation) from which my grandfather would drink his Tuborg at lunch. Or the white, porcelain, claw-footed “chocolate cups”: delicate little items that the average person might mistake for demitasse instead.

I suppose these are “housewares,” a word that feels so average in comparison to the objects themselves. As does “china,” or “stemware”: all things one can purchase at many retailers, or add to your wedding registry, etc.

But what I miss is making the time to use these objects, rather than leaving them sitting on a shelf. I miss the sense of style my grandparents had, in which as much care was taken with the table as the food that went on it. The sense of investment in these objects, which had to be treated delicately, but also used. And the making of time, perhaps the most important thing of all: the time to cook three course meals, to sit and leisurely eat and enjoy company, and the time to clean-up, too.

My parents cling to this, and I appreciate it. I aspire to it: to finding making the time, to taking things out of cabinets and off of shelves, to setting them gently on the table, to appreciating their beauty and fragility, and to enjoying their functionality surrounded by people whose lives enrich mine, and with whom I can make new memories with objects from a time that otherwise feels lost.

April 5th, 2016

The Power of the Puppy

Last week, walking home with Riley after dropping the kids at school, a taxi pulled to a stop 15 feet in front of us. The door slid open and Riley looked intently. Then she decided that she wanted to say hello to this woman, whom I did not know.

I tugged Riley along. It was 8am, and this well-dressed woman looked to be heading into the television office building in front of which we happened to be standing. But Riley insisted–and the woman, now out of her taxi, asked if she could pet Riley. I said yes.

We stood there for a minute, as the woman scratched Riley behind the ears. Riley pulled one of her signature moves and wrapped her paws and front legs around this lady’s wrist, holding her firmly in place. The woman smiled.

“Thank you for this,” she said to me. “I’ve had a rough morning, and this really cheered me up.

I guess Riley knew what she was doing.

Now Riley is spending the night at the vet, getting spayed. I can’t wait for her to be out, so she can wrap her paws around my wrist again–and so I can know she’s ok.

Sleepius Schmoopius