We desperately needed to get away from winter, so we booked a last minute deal to Puerto Rico. I've posted a couple photos from the trip. I may be reviving the broken familytravelog site to include this trip review.
We stayed in the Rio Grande area at the Westin Rio Mar beach, which is in the North East corner of Puerto Rico on the Atlantic Ocean side. We actually rented a car this time, so we got to see a little of the surrounding areas, but because of the shortness of the trip (only 4 days) and because our son doesn't love the car so much we didn't see too much of the local neighborhoods. I'd love to get back there one day when he's older and walk the cities and take more photos.
We caught the end of Vance Gilbert and all of Ani DiFranco's performance. I was sad to miss most of Vance. I always love hearing his voice and performance shtick. Ani was wonderful. She played for a little under an hour and did I think 8 songs (4 from Educated Guess) and two poems, including Grand Canyon (which she closed with) and another I hadn't heard before, but found on the web. To quote:
when they said he could walk on water
what it sounds like to me is he could float like a butterfly
and sting like a bee
literal people are scary man
literal people scare me
out there trying to rid the world of it's poetry
while getting it wrong fundamentally
now in the church of 'look it says right here, see?
I like that.
This marked my 4th Clearwater and Lorenzo's first. Robin started going 20 years ago. Yesterday's festival was beautiful. Lorenzo absolutely loved it and thought it was terrible that we had to leave. It's a wonderfully fun time for kids. There's always some music I enjoy, whether it's at the Rainbow or the Dance stage. And you can't beat the gorgeous view of the Hudson as the sweet light of the sun comes in. And with all this you also get to feel good about supporting Clearwater. Hopefully we'll start going again since we have a new reason to. We took the train this time and it was quite easy.
Lorenzo has been doing this thing where he picks up on pieces of conversations we have and repeats part of it. Yesterday Lorenzo overheard me saying, "I have my doubts" and then stated, "No, I have your doubts". Later he came up to me and grabbed at my belly, telling me, "I caught your doubts," as you would do when you grab at a child's face and say "I got your nose!" So we ran around, taking each other's doubts. If only it were that easy to get rid of one's doubts!
The new entrance to the Brooklyn Museum is one of the most welcoming public spaces that I've ever experienced. Walking in, you feel like the landscape and architecture are hugging you, inviting you in to linger outside, to look around at and maybe meet other people, and to stay awhile. All of the designers got what Brooklyn is about. It's a space for people. A space to let people move among their neighbors, that carries over from the same populist spirit embodied in our Park's long meadow and our garden's cherry blossom esplanade.
Herbert Mushcamp gives a very good review of the architecture in the NY Times, discussing the Polshek designed glass front and steps, the Judith Heintz landscape architecture and WET design dancing waters. He describes the new "glass steps" as a waterfall cascading from the original McKim Meade & White entranceway into the new amphiteater space created by the stone steps on the left and curved grass steps in the front. The review, written before the space was unleashed on the people, predicts that it's all about access and use. But, you can't truly experience that concept until you've moved through it.
After sitting for a few minutes on the grass steps while my son was busy slupring up an Italian Ice, grinning cheek to cheek with the excitement in the air, I began to quickly feel like this place reminded me of someplace else I had been. In looking around at the people I couldn't believe how many people were here, but I also couldn't believe how un-crowded it felt. Amazingly, the sound of street traffic on Eastern Parkway seemed to be unnoticable and nothing but the sound of dancing waters and people filled the air. I started getting deja vus of being in a Roman space. Then, looking up at the suspended glass entranceway, I began to think of the ways that this space was reminiscent of Roman theater design. The suspended glass made me think of the canvas sails that would be pulled over theaters like the Roman Colloseum to provide shade for the spectators. Looking back at the grass steps and the higher stone steps facing the fountain you begin to feel the effect of this kind of design. It's very successful in making you feel welcome to the museum as a civic place as much as a place for art and education.
What's most exciting about the space, however, is the dancing waters fountain. When we visited on Sunday, the weather was in the 70's, but there was a cool breeze. This didn't stop all the kids that were there from running back and forth screaming as the fountain shot up and sprayed them in the chilly waters. If you looked back at all the parents and other adults watching with huge smiles from the theater steps as the kids squealed with delight, you had to think that this was one of the best outcomes of this entranceway. I don't know if the museum had this use in mind, but these kids were so happy. The museum administration has to feel good about giving that to Brooklyn. It makes my eyes well up when I think of how amazingly free and alive they all were yesterday, dancing through the cold water.
So if you plan to make it to Brooklyn, plan on hanging out at the Museum. They promise to provide a cafe in the winter garden glass atrium (with WiFi?) some day. And if it's a summer day and the fountain is on, bring some extra clothes and water shoes for your kids!
On Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn
to take Lorenzo's walk.
To view the festival of visual treats
along the crowded city street.
The dollar stores and taquerias
the ladies selling food
out of makeshift shopping cart grills
shish kebab or corn on the cob
covered with parmessan cheese
an old man in a cowboy hat and boots
playing an accordian
singing out of tune
big beat cars crusing the avenue
mammasitas and pappasitos cruising the sidewalks
boys in baggy gear
girls in skin-tight lycra
babies covered in baby carriers
men playing dominoes on the corner
on a card table next to a bodega
vendors hawking produce and bootleg videos
Mr. Softee selling soft serve
blasting the incessant Softee song.
A wonderful place for a walk.
A carnival for Lorenzo's eyes
on our busy boulevard.
On Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn.