This is the interior of the Maine farm house of "Alvaro and Christina" as painted by Andrew Wyeth shortly after the deaths of the Maine siblings who lived there, and part of a Wyeth exhibit on display at the Hyde Collection in Glens Falls until Sept. 5. (The sister was the subject of Wyeth's most famous work, "Christina's World," painted more than two decades previously. It is not part of the exhibit.) In the Aug. 30 New Yorker, Ian Frazier has an article about abandoned Siberian prison camps in which he says: "Ordinary physical objects are alive in Russia far more than they are in America." But the humble objects in that room do seem to take on life from their owners and painter. So do some beautiful white boards on a dairy farm in a small work, "Cooling Shed."
There are a few paintings of Helga Testorf, a married caretaker of a Pennsylvania neighbor who posed secretly for the married Wyeth in the 1970s and '80s. They include one of a series of nudes called "On Her Knees," which John Updike (no stranger to secret assignations) in his book of art essays "Just Looking" calls "an erotically charged pose." In this version, unlike some others, the face is included. What's happening below is not immediately obvious, but Helga does not seem happy about it.
Dinner tonight at Scotia's Jumpin' Jack's Drive-In, followed by a free Rymanowski Brothers polka concert at Freedom Park next door, where New York State Nurses Association members from Schenectady's Ellis Hospital were handing out leaflets saying the hospital is refusing to address their concerns about safe staffing levels. They suggest calling CEO James Connolly (243-4141) or board Chairperson Cristine Cioffi (377-6700 -- whom I remember some years back as a lawyer and Democratic leader of the county Legislature) to protest their anti-labor policies. State pressure a few years ago led to an Ellis takeover of the two other hospitals in Schenectady County, St. Clare's and Bellevue, and, predictably, the results have not been good for nurses.
In Albany County, meanwhile, The Newspaper Guild has won a big legal victory against The Times Union. I like this quote (in the Troy Record story) from the administrative law judge regarding a particularly preposterous management claim: "In my view, being told your position will be eliminated unless later bargaining reverses the decision, and having all normal working contact with your employer cease, is not the equivalent of a paid vacation.” Of course The Times Union is appealing, hoping to drag this out forever until everyone is dead or working for $9 per hour (which happens to my current wage in an unrelated field, in a part-time job I am happy to hold while going to school, my first since being being laid off after 21 years at the mostly nonunion Daily/Sunday Gazette of Schenectady). The Guild also has a way people can demonstrate support.
I am allergic to political correctness, and happy to entertain arguments for restricting Muslim immigration and monitoring Islamic religious institutions to guard against the terrorist threat. I happen to have spent the past couple of days at Silver Bay, a Lake George resort with nondenominational Christian connections, where 100 years ago Sir Robert Baden-Powell attended the first encampment of the Boy Scouts of America. Here for the same few days are a large group of immigrants from Guatemala and Mexico associated with Brooklyn's Iglesia De Evangelizacion Misionera Jovenes Cristianos. They dress conservatively and say grace quietly before meals with their well behaved children, but liven up the place with noisy evening services. Friday night, we went to a nearby Catholic church to hear an impressive concert by Cantores Minores, a Polish choir that will be performing on Sunday at three NYC churches and on Monday at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
PlanetAlbany has not exactly rushed to write about the proposed Islamic cultural center in lower Manhattan ("about time" commented my liberal English niece on Facebook when President Obama first weighed in). I share the opponents' concerns about Islamist aggression in a "clash of civilizations" all over the world -- and as Maj. Nidal Hasan demonstrated at Fort Hood, even the U.S. Army can make catastrophic misjudgments regarding who is and is not a potential Islamist murderer. I respect Gov. Paterson's efforts to come up with a compromise site.
Still, a confident city and civilization would rebuild the urban fabric where the World Trade Center stood, memorializing the heroism of the firemen and cops and the loss of their fellow New Yorkers, not swaddling the whole area in piety. New York is strongly connected to the whole world, where most of the victims of Islamist murderers are not Christians or Jews (although there have been many) but their fellow Muslims. The fanatics attack civilians in mosques. They target co-religionists who line up to join the army or police and are vital allies of U.S. soldiers now at war. Those allies are not included in the murderers' version of civilization, but we need them in ours. If, as it would appear, Feisal Abdul Rauf is one of those reasonable men, it is counterproductive to alienate him and his fellow believers, and better to find common ground.
I dropped by the New York State Commission on Public Integrity this afternoon but discovered I was too late for the hearing regarding Gov. Paterson's allegedly illegal solicitation of Yankees World Series tickets. I made do with interviewing the commission's spokesman, Walter Ayres, who remains ever gracious despite my continued skepticism about some of the things his bosses do. He did explain a few things, i.e. that the commission had referred to the attorney general a potential perjury case against the governor, which former Chief Judge Judith Kaye is investigating at the attorney general's behest. The commission itself retains jurisdiction over the alleged solicitation, which would be a noncriminal violation of the public officers law (although carrying a hefty $93,000 fine, according to the Times link above). The commission does not seem to have a persuasive explanation of why it didn't agree to delay proceedings on the civil matter until Kaye completes her criminal investigation. Paterson's lawyers had requested the delay, but not in a sufficiently formal manner to satisfy the commission
The solicitation case also seems weak because it hinges on whether Paterson (plus his son, a friend and two staffers) was at the game in his official capacity. He presumably thought he was, and while Ayres notes he didn't give a speech there or throw out a pitch, those do not seem to be things the law should require or encourage. Who needs more blather from pols at ball games? They've been going to such events forever, and I doubt many ever paid with their personal money. Ayres cites the 2007 ethics law as tightening things up, and makes the valid point that the commission is not supposed to give a pass to the powerful. But even if Paterson did perjure himself when he perceived this could be trouble, it would remind me of Bill Clinton's offense in the Monica Lewinsky matter --- not necessarily something worthy of so much high powered investigation.