Tuesday, August 17, 2010

25 photos from Boston (Daily Photo 8.14.10)

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1. Nik and I had a date in Boston. We arrived just as the British forces were invading Boston Common.

2. They wore fur hats despite the heat, and kept putting their bayonets on and taking them off and putting them on again for the amusement of the crowd, which is probably why they lost the American revolution. Some British diplomat in a navy blue blazer and Dockers visited to "inspect the troops," a duty he took seriously.

3. Also staying in the same camp were American minutemen re-enactors, who stood at attention for a while until their leader gave them an hour lunch break, literally. That's more than I get.

4. We hit the Museum of Fine Arts to see some exhibits. They're keeping some of the more fascinating stuff in what we call the "paper rooms," galleries devoted to photography, prints, and (in this case) collage. This is one bit of Michael Oatman's fascinating, funny, brilliant "Exurbia" (2004).

5. The courtyard was open. It was closed when we last visited in February, for obvious reasons. We had never been out there before, despite having been to the MFA dozens of times, so we had lunch outside. An Asian couple and their kid sat at one table, relaxing with a travel guide and magazine, but left all of their belongings and food at another table several tables away. Every few minutes, one of the couple would stand up, shuffle over to their spare table, take a drink of water, and shuffle back to the first table to sit and relax.

6. I usually irritate the museum guards by taking photos of everything in the museum.

7. It may be my beard or my typically low-class style of dress, but the guards focus on me whenever I walk past and fix me with a suspicious gaze. I'm careful never to use flash, and I turn the shutter sound off.

8. This time, they left me alone.

9. Nik: "There were so many paintings like this at the time. End of parties, food going bad, transience of life, death, blah blah blah."

10. Nik: "God, what awful skin he must've had."

11. This French painting is called "Le Nip-Slip."

12. There was an exhibit of photographer Richard Avedon's fashion photos on display. We looked at six or seven of them, realized they were mind-bogglingly overrated, some bearing such a stink of schoolishness and unconcealed imagery that we left the room in a huff. Every so often the museum has to throw a bone to the pedestrians to sell tickets. A much better bet was the exhibit of photos by Nicholas Nixon.

13. Nik and I ended up joining the MFA as members. It's not that much money, and it pays for itself in just 3 visits a year. We'll be back more than that between now and next August.

14. We went for a walk down Huntington.

15. It led us to the reflecting pool by the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston.

16. There are few places I'd rather live than Boston. It thrums with history and life and expectation, and contained in every square inch are billions of possible universes existing in common with and tangent to billions of other possible universes, which are themselves home to billions of other possible universes.

17. A lot of my own history is here.

18. I still think of it as home.

19. Near the reflecting pool is the fountain, which Nik believes was designed by a fellow RISD alum.

20. It reminded us of our trip to Iowa City years ago, where they have a fountain just like it -- a thing I only vaguely remember myself because I spent most of the time having panic attacks. Most of what I remember between episodes of anxiety are walls of corn and quiet and people who were friendly.

21. After dinner, we went to the Boston Common and sat on the lawn to watch the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company perform "Othello."

22. It was the second-to-last night of the run. Nik and I don't miss a year if we can, ever since a summer night in 2001 when we happened to be in town and walking aimlessly and talking, and stumbled across a sea of people on lawn chairs and blankets waiting to see "Twelfth Night." We'd had no idea what was going on.

23. Most of the characters in "Othello" are frankly dipshits duped by Iago, who isn't even particularly bright, but it's still a fascinating piece of theater. From what we could see, the staging was a little bland and not particularly friendly to people in the back, but it may have been the distance.

 24. We couldn't see much of it, so we ended up laying back on the blankets and staring up at the sky.

25. Nik, listening: "I'm using my imagination."

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