Letter From New York 01 20 15 After Viewing El Greco…

Waking to the sounds of the city this morning, I sipped coffee while listening to the beep beep beep of trucks backing up on the street outside the apartment. After the quiet of the countryside, it was interesting to be surrounded by the urban roar.

This is the closing week for the El Greco exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and I met my friend David Wolf there just as the museum opened so that we could explore without the midday crowds. Once we knew where to go to find El Greco, we found ourselves waylaid by the wonders of the museum.

Eventually we reached the exhibit, not monumental but incredibly impressive. Gathered in the R H Macy Gallery were perhaps forty of the master’s works, each one demanding time to process.

It is easy to see why El Greco is considered a major influence on modern painters. Picasso, Monet, the German impressionists, all claimed he inspired them. His work seems out of sync with the times in which he painted, his works bolder, brighter and more dynamic than those of his contemporaries. At least that is how it seemed to me.

We tarried a good long time and then went our separate ways, David to his lawyering, me to an inbox chock a block with emails.

While I was taking in the works of El Greco, the Mayor of New York, Bill DeBlasio, was in Paris, paying respects to the victims of the recent terrorist attack there. He laid flowers at a memorial.

And while I was perusing El Greco, the Mayor of Paris announced that she was going to sue Fox News for defaming her city by declaring there were “No Go” zones in the city, off limits to anyone who was not Muslim.

Fox has apologized at least four times for the inaccuracy of its statements. Apparently it is not enough to placate Madame Hidalgo. One of Fox’s terrorism “experts” declared that Birmingham in England was also a “No Go” zone. That nearly caused Prime Minister Cameron to choke on his porridge.

As I sit writing this the residence of the President of Yemen appears to be under attack, causing fears of a coup in that country. The brothers who carried out the Charlie Hebdo attack proclaimed their allegiance to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based in Yemen.

I doubt anyone wants more instability there.

Tonight, President Obama goes in front of the nation to deliver his sixth State of the Union address. He will be going back to his theme of raising taxes on the wealthy and increasing fees on banks. I doubt he thinks he will get this accomplished with a Republican Congress and Senate but I am sure he is framing the conversation for the Post Obama era, which is rapidly approaching.

I hope no ones boos him this year. Remember that?

Usually, I don’t watch the State of the Union address because I have unwittingly made a social engagement for the same evening, as I have done this year. As President Obama outlines his plans for the coming year, I will be sitting at dinner with a friend who works for Fordham. I will catch up later, when I get home and all the dissection is happening.

Out in space the Dawn spacecraft is closing in on the dwarf planet, Ceres, and soon we’ll get a look at the largest chunk in the asteroid belt. Scientists are all a titter over their first close look at this celestial body.

And in Herculaneum there is a villa destroyed in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius some 1900 years ago. In its library there is a treasure trove of manuscripts, which were scorched and have been unreadable. With technology, it looks as if they will be able to be read again without damaging them.

It is nice to think that we may recover more knowledge from the ancients after all this time. It should be a good library; the villa was owned by Julius Caesar’s father-in-law.

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