Columbus Day weekend began on Friday with drinks with DW. We hadn't seen each other for a long time, and the time at Suite Bar passed very pleasantly, so pleasantly that we both wondered afterwards why we were not meeting more often. Then on Saturday, dinner with P and J at Spring Natural Kitchen on the UWS because J wanted to try its organic cooking. Dinner was a success. It was so easy to be with them, so relaxing.
On Sunday G and I went to Philly for the day. We both loved the new Barnes Foundation building, designed by Tod Williams. I was mesmerized by the Matisse dance mural but liked "The Joy of Life" much less than I thought I would. I had the unwanted feeling that the Picasso works in the collection were stronger than the Matisse paintings. The happier discovery here was how much I liked Cezanne's portraits. Their somber backgrounds spoke of an essential seriousness that I found quite moving. This was an art not calculated to please. Barnes considered Renoir, among all the modern painters he collected, as his god. After looking at so many paintings by the French master, I stil did not understand what Barnes saw in him. Renoir is very pretty but not godlike. The way the paintings were arranged on the wall according to Barnes's idea of "assemblages" felt overly didactic to me. I kept hearing the schoolmaster's voice in my ear as I moved from room to room.
Philly celebrated National Coming Out Day in a more Dionysian manner than does New York. We did not know it until we hit the street fair in the gay neighborhood. Every bar threw an outdoor party of sorts. We had a drink at Woody's, browsed at Giovanni's Room, ate at the Cuban restaurant next door called Mixto, and then, after trying a few other places, returned to bustling Woody's. It was easy to catch a cab to the train station and then we were back by Amtrak. After restting on Columbus Day, G voyaged into the New World when he started on his new job with clodagh the next day.
This last weekend, I went to Boston to attend the council meeting of the Association of Literary Scholars, Critics and Writers. The ALSCW, which is open to everyone, promotes the reading and writing of works of literature. I met JB the outgoing president and SS the incoming president. SS is organizing the annual confence at Athens, Georgia, next April. For that conference I am putting together a panel session on the translation of Asian literature. The meeting was held at the Editorial Institute of Boston University. After the meeting, I met YTW for dinner at Chinatown, before taking the Megabus home.
The next day, Sunday, we went on a hike with R, L and S. They drove us out to Arthur W. Butler Memorial Sanctuary, near the town of Mount Kisco, where we had brunch first. Little S did very well on the hike, being in high spirits throughout. Maple and pine trees over 225 acres.