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Showing posts from November, 2010

New York and Me—Part 2

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Read Part 1 here. After a year of post-school life in Philadelphia, I moved back to Dallas, Texas and got married. Things did not go well. My wife suggested we take a three-day trip to San Francisco, because she'd always heard it was interesting. I was not interested, but agreed to go along. I'd never been to California. I'd heard about it on the TV news, growing up: earthquakes, mudslides, forest fires, and hippies on drugs.  What I found surprised me. Here was a city with some of the excitement of New York, but it was relatively clean and quiet.  I could imagine getting on with life here, not merely surviving and paying the rent.  I walked the costal trail through Lincoln Park. I couldn't believe how pretty and peaceful it was. Seals played in the water. Downtown, I saw people fishing from the Ferry Building pier. I never saw anyone fishing the waters around Manhattan. On the third day, I decided we would live here.  I'm kind of weird that way. My parents mo

A Rainy Weekend with Antoni Gaudi and Max

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My brother Mike has given us a subscription to National Geographic for several years. The magazine excites my son Max. This weekend he opened the current issue and saw this drawing of Antoni Gaudi's unfinished cathedral,  Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família .  Max said we should begin building a model of the cathedral immediately. We spent a good part of this weekend on our model, and Max is deservedly proud of it. I first saw cathedrals in Europe when I was twenty-five. After an afternoon inside Notre Dame in Paris, I wrote: These people wanted to construct an edifice so big and high and powerful that everyone would look at it and say, "Wow, they must have mighty faith! I'd better listen to them!" The weight, the solidity, the permanence of the cathedrals was a reminder of a faith just as solid and indestructible. When I stood under that magnificent vaulted ceiling, I couldn't help but think that they succeeded.

New York and Me—Part 1

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New York, you’re a fickle woman. Just when I want to leave you with no regrets, you pull off your blouse and rub your breasts in my face . —1994 Coming to New York for the first time is like meeting a famous world leader. You can't hope to separate the actual city from the legends told about it. I grew up far away, but the city forced its particles into my brain: Central Park, Radio City Music Hall, Times Square. Growing up in any part of America, we'd hear these place names many times. Half the power of visiting Manhattan is to plug in to their reality: "There's Radio City Music Hall! It's real!" New York took on new allure when I watched Woody Allen's movie, Manhattan. I left the theater jumping up and down with excitement. It was a vision of a different life. A place where people talked for entertainment, where a beautiful woman might call and say, “Would you like to walk through Central Park with me this afternoon?” No freeways, no loud music. I