The beaver looked Edward in the eye and said, “We’ve had this conversation before. I realize that now. What makes you think this one will end any different than any of the others?”

“Ah, so you think this rising awareness of the past puts you in a position of power somehow. Do not fool yourself or waste my time. Truth is such a subjective thing and you do not, cannot, grasp the reality that lies behind the thin and brittle enamel you have naively tried to cover it with. I am here to learn a few things, reinforce a few perhaps forgotten rules, and deliver what Gareth would euphemistically refer to as an ’attitude adjustment.’ You, my aquatic friend, will, answer my questions, and then sit there and listen to your lessons. Then we shall decide how this ’conversation’ will end.”

The air in the room seemed to grow denser as Edward delivered his message to the beaver and he found himself shrinking down into the cushions ever so slightly. Edward noticed and dipped his ears forward before proceeding.

“Now, to the matter of Barney. You have been interfering again. It went unnoticed this long due to your admittedly clever obfuscations and my lack of recognition of who I was dealing with, but that is done now and we shall proceed with repairing whatever rents you may have made in the fabric.”

Edward paused.

“Now, tell me where Barney is and what, precisely, you did. And try to keep the lies to a minimum. I don’t have time for your typical nonsense.”




“Barney,” Meredith called from the kitchen. “Dinner’s on the table. And the buns are just out of the oven.”

Baking was the one thing that Meredith had loved doing with her mother. Most times she was more inclined to be out in the fields or tinkering in the shop with her father, but when there was dough to be kneaded or bread to be baked, Meredith would generally doff her covies and clean up enough to be allowed to join her mother in the big kitchen.

Dough was the first skill she had ever had that had been elevated to the status of art form. She was handy enough with a paintbrush, had sketched many an idea on paper and could manage a half-ways decent shirt or pajama bottom on the old Singer. But it was in flour and water rolled out on the counter that she discovered the difference between skill and passion. What her mother did with bread had been the most mouthwatering form of art that Meredith had ever encountered, and she had striven to master the craft and exemplify the art. She used her mother’s old proportions and expanded upon them to create undeniable masterpieces of the baker’s art. It was a rare old curmudgeon that could resist praising Meredith’s oven-warm offerings, and even Barney was not enough of a misanthrope that he could resist expressing a real joy at the experience of biting into one of Meredith’s rolls slathered in butter.

It was, in fact, one of the very few true expressions of anything that Barney had ever allowed himself. That way ran failure and Barney would not allow himself to be beaten. But the bread, the buns, the pastries, these could not be feared. They could only be worshipped appropriately and then consumed for the benefit of Barney.

“I’ll be right down…”



The beaver, for all his apparent youth, had a long memory. He remembered the bison, he remembered a time without horses, he remembered the river smaller and faster, carving out its present valley with all the unbridled energy of youth, and he remembered the mountains when they were younger and wilder and full of things not seen today. And the beaver remembered the lodge and the murky water and sun-warmed mud. The taste of the new growth on trembling aspens in the spring, the joy of chasing silver-sided minnows in the shallows and the satisfaction of giving in to those irrepressible urges to build and create and construct.

The beaver remembered a lot of things and yet he remembered nothing clearly, and he often wondered what it must be like to be one of those whose memories are full of details. Tiny incidents, names, texture, tones and the plethora of images that paint the clear picture others claim to hold in their heads. The beaver’s internal galleries were abstract: powerful, intense and full of emotion but void of precision, awash in colour and emptied of the clutter of specifics.

But despite all that, the beaver remembered. He remembered the bunny, if that’s what he wanted to call himself, and he remembered Barney.

It was unlikely he would ever forget Barney.



The 351 was a peculiar engine. Ford had made several versions of it in ’70s and saddled each with a geographic designation that did little to enlighten the consumer, less to excite the car fanatics and nothing at all for the marketing team who were struggling with losing sales of the Mustang to the more muscle-bound Pontiac Firebird and Dodge Charger. Barney had a 351 Windsor in his 1972 Cougar and had always daydreamed it was the heftier 429 Cobrajet. The 370-horsepower engine in the one he had test driven at that car show had sent shivers up his spine as he’d opened up the 4 barrels and accelerated down the highway. Barney wasn’t necessarily a car snob; he just wanted the biggest and the best. To crush all the puny and pointless competitors until they were the mere remnants of road kill left to slowly fry on the hot asphalt. And frankly, Ford had made a big mistake with with the 351 nonsense. They should have learned with the confusion surrounding the Hemi and stuck with simpler, customer friendly nomenclature. People, as Barney well knew, were stupid.

Speaking of which, the cream Cougar was currently on its way back to the farm where someone was about to get their comeuppance. It might be Meredith’s car for the moment, but that, and a few other things about this stupid relationship, were about to change. Finally.



It’s over. There was no note, no missive from beyond. I am sober and bereft.

I must escape this room. I have been too long in its confines and forgotten too much of my fellow man. This machine, these works, they have become my life. And so I drink and forget to dream. Yet these missives have awoken something I thought long dead or untouchable. I should not let it once again slip my grasp; if I hold on to even a sliver of the dream, then these walls can no longer hold me. I can once again join that realm where man walks under the sun and interacts with his god’s universe. This is what I must do. This is what I shall do.

But perhaps a drink for courage. A moment to reflect. A pause for the reawakening and a sip to celebrate, and then we shall move forward and learn once again to live.

But what’s that noise? No. NO! That infernal noise calls me back to its clutches; it beckons me like an airy siren from hell. A slave. And I must obey: it is duty and the price laid upon my existence. So I shall have another drink and another, and perhaps dream my dreams in a crystal glass filled with the amber water of life, of the only life that remains to me. But I shall dream.

Dream …

2:23 We’ve Got to Be a Part of It

Ah, my head. I must see about stocking another brandy. This one seems so… coarse. Perhaps some biscuits or another glass. But of the good stuff, yes another glass and we shall check the post.

Breakfast. Then we pack up and drop off our bags. We have until 2:45 to amuse ourselves and then it’s home-home time. We wander out, into the rain, and immediately write off the Empire State Building. The Brooklyn Bridge and Battery Park also get tossed; thank goodness, we wouldn’t want to actually see a sight, would we.

So we hop an uptown train and get off on 5th Avenue and wander into my MoMA… I mean the MoMA. The line up is huge and we waffle a bit; but this is New York: they know how to move people.

I said hello to some old friends and met some new ones. I do like the MoMA. Munch’s The Scream was there on loan from a private collection and there were a few new pieces we hadn’t seen or that weren’t on display since our last visit.



On the 5th floor was a special exhibit, The Birth of Abstractionism, which started off with a blast of Kandinskys and moved on from there. Leslie was pleased with her three Georgia O’Keefes, but she’s got a dirty mind. Not as dirty as C’s but dirty nonetheless. On that note we discovered we can’t be breezy. Devil may care, footloose, even flexible, but without C breezy just ain’t in the cards.

We hit the later moderns in a whirlwind to try and keep the schedule but still took in a few fun objets d’art. But soon enough we had to run.


Homeward bound, we stopped for some street food. I had a couple of chicken kabobs and Leslie opted for Italian sausage. We headed for the subway and all the while Leslie was wrestling with the sausage.

There was a bit of a wait for the train but we made it back to Leo House for 2:39, 6 minutes to spare. Of course as we were walking in the door, everyone else it seems was running with luggage away from us down the street. A bit disconcerting. Turns out the early birds were catching the first van but we were safe for the next.


A quick wash of our hands and we grabbed our baggage and were out in the rain to find our van. Our driver was a bit slower, and it took forever to get off the island. We did, however, take the 59th Street bridge, so that was groovy.

One of the things we noticed on the long long drive is that many of the billboards were empty. One billboard even said “The Loss of This Billboard Costs Jobs and Tax Revenue.” There must be an issue?

We checked in a million hours early even so and cleared security pretty quick. Their X-ray machine was a lot like the full-body scanners, but I checked out the image and it was simply a 2D image that pinpointed areas the TSA guys should check. More efficient if a bit less comfortable for the passenger than the typical walk through x-ray.


And then we wait at Gate C34 until it’s time to board for Toronto. With no free wifi.

Landing in Toronto 10 minutes early we disembark and scoot to catch our connector. There was much to-ing and fro-ing as we cleared customs and security and boarded our Edmonton-bound plane and our adventure was essentially over.


2:22 Cloistered Away

I must confess I had a drink. Well, maybe two. Or perhaps several more than that. The ‘experimental guitar festival’ proved too much to comprehend. Who are these people?!? What have they done to the proper New York? I cannot understand yet know I must try.

Good morning. Shower, breakfast (which included a thick raisin bread with caraway…weird) and a quick chat and it seems we are off on the A Train to the north tip of the island. The Metropolitan Museum has an out station called the Cloisters, which houses its medieval collection.


It was built in the 1930s specifically to house these artifacts. A sculptor toured Europe and acquired lots of stone work and sculpture, even an entire apse, to incorporate into the building. Leslie has tainted me enough with her Marxist claptrap that I have been regularly referring to the ‘stolen’ nature of all the archways and frescos that are more naturally situated in the south of France and Spain whence they were ‘acquired’.

Beautiful nonetheless.

Some of the doorways and vaults are reconstructed from fragments rescued after they had been sacked or destroyed during various European conflicts, some as late as the Spanish Civil War in 1936. I guess I approve of that. That is, if anyone cares for my approval.

I saw a great description of the transition from Romanesque to Gothic and while I didn’t learn any new facts I had a few new mini-epiphanies about walls and decor. Of course stained glass arose as a result of the new vaults and buttresses; they didn’t need the walls for support so why stick with frescos when you could kill two birds with one stone?

There are some tremendous tapestries here from the 15th and 16th centuries. Huge pieces that were once 21 x 16′ wall coverings but have since been cut down into curtains; they’re still huge, though.

Downstairs is a collection of prayer books dating from the 1200s: stunning.



At 2:43 Leslie strong-armed me onto the M4 to take the bus back into town. Well after a grueling hour of plebeian transit, we finally disembarked at the Met around 3:55. It didn’t kill me. Quite.

Next up, since our Cloisters tickets are good at the Met, is to try and finish it off. It’s open until 9 tonight so if our feet can take we might finally win this one. First up a pretzel and chicken gyro (which is New York for donair) from a street vendor. Next stop: musical instruments.

So of course we stopped in European art to ogle the Rembrandts and Vermeers. Then we wandered through the musical section and learned about diatomic and chromatic instruments. Harpsichords, pianofortes, bagpipes and violins; they wouldn’t let me play the Strad. Then it was back to Europe and more masters from Gainsborough to Fragonard.

Wow. There are a lot of them: Botticelli, Dürer, Jacometto, Titian, Raphael, why the list is endless. And my feet are very tired.


After the Caravaggio we cried hold, enough and bailed on the European painters. A spin through printmaking and a bit of Spanish art and decor and I dragged my tired ass to East Asian art. Buddha and Vishnu in a million incarnations; I’d love to do it again when I wasn’t tired.


We finished off with Japan and saw a 11th-century silk scroll and some spectacular watercolours of birds. After that we both decided to call it quits. It was 7:45 and we were hungry. In honour of our last sight of the Met we opted for Japanese.

Back on the M4 bus as far as Penn Station and onto the blue line back to Chelsea where there is a nice Japanese place a couple of doors down from the Leo House.

Yes there is a lovely, very full Japanese place right next to the Leo House. So we bailed and hit the diner on the corner where Leslie will indulge in a Cornish game hen and I will brave the Pizza Burger Deluxe.

It was good. And we slept.

2:21 Moody Reds

Ah. This is beginning to be more clear. An opera; people of culture. I needs must hear more.

Breakfast was late because the opera was late. But we made it before the 10:30 deadline. After food we chatted with Jamie and made plans to meet up for music tonight. And then we were off and running like a herd of turtles.

A short train ride and a walk of a couple of blocks and we were on W 37 Street, home of the infamous Mood.



Mood is reasonably visible from across the street if you look up to the second floor but the entrance isn’t
marked and you have to ride one of those old-fashioned elevators up–you know the ones with an elevator operator and multiple doors. We later discovered stairs so that’s how we went down.

Mood is huge. And there are about a thousand people working there and, much to my surprise, at least half the men were straight. Everyone is super friendly and we discovered, as Leslie was fondling alpacas, that they are all on commission. She almost started a fight between these two huge black guys over whose customer she was… it was vicious! And all she was trying to do was fish a tag out of a roll…ah woman, you carry the seeds of strife whoever you go… Seriously, though, it was then politest disagreement I had ever heard, reminded me of two Canadians trying to out-polite each other. Anyway after we had all settled that we were just window shopping Leslie decided to buy something and the guy who helpfully pointed out another rack of them snagged the ticket.

Anyway, you can get anything there. I loved the selection of tie fabric. It was almost enough to make me want to learn to sew (correctly that is) and start wearing ties. No Swatch though. Or he was having a nap. But I took a picture of a picture of him, so that’s something.

While we were there we found out what dropping feathers sounded like. A young women was passing by the head of the stairs and she must of snagged the display of feathers. Anyway the whole container spilled out and down the stairs. So you’d think if you had to spill something that spilling feathers would be a good choice right? Well in this case, not so much.

Because you see the feathers were in an acrylic container, and while the feathers floated softly to the ground, the plastic bin was performing experiments with gravity as it slowly, melodically and with an interesting bounce seemed to hit each and every stair on the way down with a loud clack and clang. Seriously, it was like a slow-motion embarrassment for that poor girl as everyone in the vicinity had a chance to stop, turn towards the noise, recognize what was happening and enjoy the disharmonious clatter as she stood helplessly at the top of the stairs with her feet covered in feathers. Definitely a TV moment.

Anyway we eventually wandered out and discovered the Project Runway 1407 wasn’t 1407 Broadway, and I couldn’t find it anywhere else. So we hit the subway once more. There was an accident somewhere uptown so the trains were being held and staggered, but it’s like the transit people here actually want to be helpful, because there were more than enough announcements etc to ensure even novices like us could navigate the disruption unscathed.

We popped up at the edge of Central Park across from the Plaza and crossed over to the original Apple Store. Unfortunately they don’t really have a better collection of cases than we do in Edmonton so I guess I will have to order one online.

Next we walked 10 windy blocks north up 5th Avenue to the Frick Collection. The Frick Collection is housed in a neo-classical mansion built 1913-14 by Mr Frick to live in and house his growing art collection. He was one of those rags-to-riches stories who started out in steel in Pittsburg and eventually settled in New York. Apparently when he built the mansion he had intended it as a museum later and upon his death in 1919 he bequeathed it. His wife remained in residence for another some-odd years, at which time it was opened to the public.

There are some great works housed here. The most recognizable is the portrait of Sir Thomas More by Hans Holbein the Younger, painted in 1527. I also loved the St Francis of Assisi by Giovanni Bellini.



One of the intriguing pieces of furniture was a desk with shelves below. It houses The Royal Collection of Paintings Volume I Buckingham Palace 1905 and Volume II Windsor Castle 1906. There was no well for the legs, but as it was in the library I don’t think it was ever meant to used as a desk.

Those texts got me thinking about the book as art/container and the classification of a limited edition as a ‘published’ work. Something to think about later.

There was a collection of 18-century watches with text talking about horologists combining technical skill, refined design and exquisite craftsmanship to produce works of art. And they were works of art.

A pair of Vermeers hang (including Officer and Girl) in the vestibule; I almost recognized a Degas by missed it by blurting out Remoir even though I recognized the ballet motif. Later I successfully ID’d a Renoir upon entering a room, partially redeeming myself.

In the West Gallery, the space that would have traditionally been the ballroom, but Frick had designed as a massive gallery for his works, hangs a painting that is of the same girl that inspired Girl with the Pearl Earring: Mistress and Maid painted c. 1666-67 by Vermeer. Oh and a couple of Rembrandts (3 that is) and a host of others.

In the East Gallery (a later addition) hands a Manet called The Bullfight; it was originally the top half of a painting that Manet cut in half and reworked. The bottom half is called the The Dead Torreador.

On the way back we cut through Central Park and skirted by the Zoo. The zebras didn’t seem so reactionary to me.


Back on the train we were entertained by dueling buskers. The first group was a break dancer who did some awesome things with his shoe and the poles withou injuring himself or the riders. At the next stop a quartet boarded, acknowledged the dancers and bust into I’m Going to Let it Shine for one stop and then changed cars. Sweet stuff.

Back in Chelsea we stopped in at the Moonlight Diner for burgers before taking a break in our room while Leslie ‘read’. Then it was down to the lobby for 6:15 to hook up with Jamie for our trip to Brooklyn and some experimental guitar.

So Jamie dragged us across the river for the 3rd Annual Experimental Guitar Festival at the ShapeShifter Lab in Brooklyn. It features 5 acts, all guitar based and as avant-garde as some of the art we’d been seeing. But these guys were serious about their music and serious about their guitars. We saw some awesome guitars there tonight. The owner of the club/organizer of the festival played a 1940 Richenbacher Lap Steel Guitar for his set. It was pretty sweet. Some of the others were impossible to describe.

The creme de la creme though was Wolfgang Muthspiel’s set and the highlight of that was a song he dedicated to a fellow musician, Youssou Ndour from Senegal, whom he had played with. It blew my mind. I can’t believe no one else from the group saw this. I especially can’t believe Brenda opted for a 5 hour Wagnerian opera (Parsifal) over this. Simply stunning.



The last trio was loud; they had a girl drummer and she wailed on them things. Young guys making noise and keeping up to the big boys. It was pretty good stuff.

Back in the train and home we go…

2:20 Spiders O My


My eyes are dry from lack if sleep and the interminable waiting. Still I wait. I wait for news from ‘new york’

This morning was a conversation with Kathy about art and photography with a bit of printmaking thrown in. Then it was off to the Guggenheim.

The main exhibit is of the Gutai, an Avant Garde group in post war Japan that focused on children & play as a way of moving away from the root causes of the war. By avoiding and moving away from the structure of art they sought to work with the materials rather than force them into the art.


Throw away the paintbrush; it’s the oppressive tool that forces us to repeat the art of the last. It reminds me that culture is a reaction not an action. Art and literature etc are always reacting to what came before and if you don’t know what that is then you will have trouble understanding what the artist is doing.

What does this mean about books? Books are the paintbrush and it’s time to put it aside and see what publishing really is. To see what the true meaning or purpose of the content is.

There was a lot of “I can do that…” In this exhibit. For me in this exhibit, if you remove the intellectual process they used to create art you are left with a lot of common, albeit cool, art projects. Still struggling with what that means.

Time was running out so we popped in on the 3rd floor for Kandinsky 1911-1913. He was residing in Munich at the time but returned to Russi0 at outbreak of WWI.


It was getting late so we hopped a bus down 5th Avenue back to 59th Street. I noted that the bus is only $2.25, a dollar cheaper than Edmonton. And way way more effective. Viva la big city.

Up next: Foxwood Theatre for a matinee of Spiderman. I wanted to see it for the technological aspect. The music is apparently so-so but then I don’t like musicals anyway.

On a related note I was saddened to note the other day that the live spider exhibit at the AMNH was closed. Not. I hope they had fun ‘closing’ that exhibit: squish-squish.

Spider-Man isn’t an actor. There are about 9 of them who fly in and out or tumble across the stage. Awesome, awesome technical stuff, and watching the conductor on the screens mounted below the first balcony is a hoot. She really gets into it. I imagine the band is in another building and it’s all piped in. Anyway we are in a box on stage left so have a good view of the stage and the audience.



All in all if you came to see it as a musical you’d be pretty blah about it. Nothing memorable and no real big dance numbers or great choreography. They are relying on aerial stuff that is impressive by not so ‘theatrically’ creative.

The final aerial battle was mucho pressure and the music (by U2) certainly was rousing and by the time it was over you had really gotten into it. All in all it was worth the price of admission… once.

Back on the train we ran into Jamie and Brenda (what are the odds) and we rode home together. They are off to some music club tonight (although Brenda is hitting a cello recital at Juilliard first). They headed to Murray’s bagels and we headed back to Patsy’s Pizza for an early supper.

Mmmmm. Now it’s time for some updates and perhaps some reading with our eyes closed for Leslie.

After her nap Leslie watched me don a tie and we soon were on our way. Down the block and up the red line 5 stops and we arrived with the well-dressed hordes at Lincoln Center.

Tonight is Bizet’s Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera. We are up in the Family Circle, which is essentially the fifth balcony. But the tickets are only $37 apiece. Awesome prices that ensure a full house for this classic.

It didn’t, however, end until 11:30. Tired.


2:19 Art Attack

I awoke with a start as the tube rattled and hissed. Problems? No, no, all was well. I could hear the next missive hurtling towards me. I reached for my glass, then paused. Later, time for a drink later.

After breakfast we headed out with Jamie and Brenda for the art walk through the galleries of Chelsea. No one else took up their offer, more fools they. We did about 7 or 8 galleries with a broad range of artists. I loved the Russell Young print of Frank Sinatra and the Frank Gehry conceptual sketches of his architectural works (including the Guggenheim in Bilbao) were awesome. Leslie fell in love with the collection of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Look him up, it’s an awe inspiring story.


We stopped at a park to use some washrooms and checked out the dog park; it was half the size of our old St Albert house’s back yard. Small.

I loved the $16,000 bronze of a rooster’s head and the $8000 iron resin horse-headed man. There were also some super cute bunnies with a fortune cookie saying “Next time order the shrimp.”


On the way back we took the highline for a couple of blocks; it’s an old elevated railroad turned into a walkway and park. Ingenious and beautiful. We caught a bus back towards the Flatiron Building and went to a deli called Eisenberg’s. Traditional New York deli so I ordered the traditional pastrami on rye. Delish. Leslie had the matzo ball soup, again very traditional.



< The restaurant was a study in awesome. It was long and very narrow with mostly bar seats. Each guy working behind the counter was responsible for about 5 or 6 patrons and whatever cooking stations were in his area. The yelled back and forth (mostly in Spanish) and food meandered back and forth depending on its needs or ingredients. All in all a very traditional, and very New York, meal.

It had started to rain but we were off to the Intrepid Museum. A short train ride and a longer walk and we arrived at the USS Intrepid, an aircraft carrier vintage 1943 -1974. It houses a number of planes including the closed (as a result of Hurricane Sandy) exhibit with a space shuttle. One of the highlights for me was the Blackbird, a Cold War vintage CIA spy plane. Afterwards we walked down the pier and checked out the Concorde and the Hudson River. On the way out we toured the Growler sub; this was a short-lived 60s-era design that launched early cruise missiles. Not as small as the WWII sub I saw in San Francisco but small enough.



After we toured the sub we walked east to Broadway and Times Square and grabbed tickets to the Albee show at 40% off. Then we hopped a train to Lincoln Center to pick up tomorrow’s opera tickets and scooted back for the 7 o’clock show. Somewhere in between we grabbed a hotdog with relish… a real treat here in Yankee-land.

After a bit of hanging out under the canopy at the Booth Theatre we watched the pack of teenagers grow and grow. “Why,” Leslie asked, “are there a bunch of teenagers going to an Albee play?” “Why,” I replied sagely, “they must be a school group.” We’ll I turns out they were just waiting for the theatre doors 2 theatres down to open so they could see Once.

We found our seats but were moved closer to center due to a camera being in our way. Better seats. The play? Abso-fucking fabulous! I had seen it done in Edmonton but honest to god it was crap compared to this. I still don’t like musicals, but I just might be a Broadway convert.

Back on the train and then we hit an all night diner for a late late supper. Challah French toast for Leslie and a chicken triple decker for me. Then it’s home to beddy-by.


My mind is swirling yet I shall not sleep until tomorrow night. What odd spell is in these missives?