Private Shores: ownership (three of x)

05/27/2013 § Leave a comment

Where land meeds water in Montauk

On Montauk we went to a beautiful beach with rocks shaped smooth and translucent by crashing waves where peace meets action, peace is created by action. Here you can harvest wholeness and replenish your “capacity to build common community.” But only if you have access. This was a private beach, as so many are. We had access by virtue of being guests of the B&B where we stayed.

Pebbles and reflections

In her thoughts on the privatization of public space and what that has to do with community, and more broadly, with democracy, Dean of Harvard Law School Martha Minow shares her insights with beautiful examples of the free Hawaiian shores, particularly relevant on the US East Coast where the land meets the sea is so often private.

Breaking Granite: How to (one of x)

04/22/2013 § Leave a comment

IMG_3206 IMG_3207 IMG_3210 IMG_3211 IMG_3212 IMG_3215 IMG_3216 IMG_3217 IMG_3218

The Shape: Picture Narratives (two of x)

03/25/2013 § Leave a comment

On a Sunday in February I spent some time with the modern Indian paintings at the Peabody Essex Museum. I came across Manjit Bawn’s 1984 painting Dharma and the God.

Dharma and the God by Manjit Bawa, 1984

Dharma and the God by Manjit Bawa, 1984

An object on a simple surface – its contours attracted me. Lately I have thought so much about context; here was an opportunity to focus on just the object and the beauty of a sinuous line encompassing something magical that I did not care to fully understand – I breathed in my bewilderment, just like Rumi advised: “Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.” And so I did, and I remember feeling content with squinty happy eyes. I sat and doodled: figure on background.

Later, on a Thursday evening, I returned to the museum for a reading by modern Indian authors, among them Suketu Mehta. But I fell in love with Rishi Reddi from the moment she called herself a feminist. A word so often taken out of context, misunderstood, triggering misunderstandings. After the reading, I went up to tell her how glad I was to hear that currently maligned word, and she told me “we need to bring it back,” and we do. In this case context prevailed?

But, the first reading was by Rajesh Parameswaran. He showed Manjit Bawa’s painting Krishna and the Snake as he read a precise seemingly banal tale of a tiger’s love for its zookeper.

Krishna and the Snake by Manjit Bawa

Krishna and the Snake by Manjit Bawa

Its ending still bewilders me and it tantalizes; much like Bawa’s painting, you feel the shape (of image, of narrative) like a flickering breeze, soft on the skin. Again I was brought to a complex smile that was really a marvel at the capacity of imagination to bring wonder to the world and make me forget myself. Within the precise shape (of image, of narrative), yes, there is a context, deep and interwoven, but for now, the shape itself can be enough to bring a smile and raise an eyebrow.

In Minneapolis, at the Walker Art Center, I sat, transfixed to the changing shapes on monitor. I sat for a long time. Shape after shape after shape. (Thank you, Erwin Wurm, 59 Positions, 1992)IMG_2694 IMG_2695 IMG_2696 IMG_2698 IMG_2699 IMG_2700 IMG_2701 IMG_2703 IMG_2704 IMG_2705 IMG_2706 IMG_2708 IMG_2710 IMG_2711 IMG_2713

The shapes are solid but not static; they breathe visibly. But then, photo after photo, I realize that what is important for me is the shape context. The shapes changing as the museum goers go here and there and create an unintended canvas. Yes, the shape has to be good to converse fluently with its surroundings, but that conversation is what really holds, and adds to the dynamism, and evokes the present.


Public Space: What is it? (three of x)

03/04/2013 § 1 Comment

Fort Pienc, Barcelona, Spain 2011

Fort Pienc, Barcelona, Spain 2011


For in truth, the most accurate definition of the urbs and the polis is very like the comic definition of a cannon. You take a hole, wrap some steel wire tightly around it, and that’s your cannon.” Ortega Y Gasset 1883 – 1955

Public Space: A World of Strangers (two of x)

02/11/2013 § 2 Comments

Barcelona, 2011

Barcelona, 2011

“When the city dweller leaves his home or the homes of people he knows personally, he is surrounded by strangers… the world of strangers which is the city is located in the city’s public space.”

Lyn H Lofland. A World of Strangers: Order and Action in Urban Public Space, 1973. page 19

Osgood Park (ownership two of x)

02/04/2013 § Leave a comment


On an early walk in Salem, I was overjoyed to find what I was sure would become my favorite sanctuary in the city. A short walk from my house, on the shore, a simple grass rectangle with mature trees, and of ideal Goldilocks proportions, being neither too large nor too small; this park was just right. Benches to sit on and listen to the gentle waves faced New England’s is pretty picturesque landscape. Here it was postcard perfect with a small island in the foreground and, across the water, a backdrop of stately Marblehead homes. The real selling point, though, was the swing set: four proper adult swings. I had just moved from Cambridge, where many close parks offered places to indulge in a bit of play. Here, I had been looking for a nearby place to swing, and while the larger and closer Forest River Park has a full playground and swimming facilities, at the time, it only had child safety swings.


On leaving the park that day I fondly looked back. There was a sign, rather large, that I had somehow missed on my initial approach – there was the park’s name, various notices, and finally, the simple words: “members only.”


I have since returned to the park, its open inviting lawn, and swung on the swings, but now it feels oddly subversive, and I wonder what I would say if anyone would ask me if I am in fact a member.

Poem (two of x)

01/25/2013 § 1 Comment

a love poem

I think of you and think
I love you.

Other thoughts dim, blocked.

I reach deep to write you words of great meaning.

I scratch at the surface
and unfold the layers
of my mind
and my heart
and I take a good long look,
and in reaching I find my love for you
in every crevice of me.

I feel it along the bottom of my cheek as I think of your fingers there;
or at the back of my head as I feel your hand there.
My love for you runs down my spine
and tickles in places, like lips graze,

small scratches,
silent explosions
treading constellations of freckles, I see you.
Your hands upon me
not consuming, just dancing
on top of my skin
inside my organs.

As I think of you, I braid these streams of thoughts
and seamlessly weave these strands of emotions
and knit whispers gentle as breezes into my cherished memories of us.
My love for you has infiltrated me and I cannot untangle you from myself;
nor do I want to.