Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Monday, February 21, 2005


My friend Jay Sherman-Godfrey emailed me the other day, and we e-gabbed.


“The talk of the town is still the Gates installation in the Park. I noticed bloggist Teachout didn't like it. Quick to say ‘I don't like conceptual art.’ He goes on to say that upon overhearing the crowd, most of them had not come see it, but to see what the fuss was all about. What I thought was great about it, equally so as the visual impact, was the reaction to it -- the mass of people collected by it. It struck me that that was the point, the fuss. What a lovely fuss it was -- in several languages.

“A letter-writer to the Times thought it desecrated a sacred place, one that she goes to for solace and authentic nature. But of course Olmstead completely contrived the Park. It is no less sculptural than the Gates. It's a fantasy of nature -- conceptual art on an even grander scale than the 7500, 23 miles of Gates.

Manhattan thereabouts was a rather nasty swamp before the engineers got there.

“A professor I had at NYU for a class called Urban Geology illuminated me to the school of thought that cities are the habitat of humans much as ant hills are the habitat of ants, and no less ‘natural.’ That notion struck a chord with me, and still informs my daily interaction with the City.

“I also love bridges. We got some bridges here. Trying to write a song about a bridge near our house -- the Hell Gate Bridge -- a beautiful steel arch bridge spanning a famously treacherous bit (swirling, boiling tidal action) of the East River.

“Hell Gate is Dutch, and translates ‘beautiful strait.’”


I've been thinking about the limitations of the culture/nature dichotomy as well -- we are, after all, part of nature.

The Gates hubbub sounds interesting.

The park is a work of art, but it's also an environment -- man-made, sure -- and for some people it's a church.  More than a picture.  But despite this quibble, I agree with your point very much, and didn't know that Central Park had been a swamp before.

People object to putting Beethoven to a disco beat too.  Desecration! "A Fifth of Beethoven" -- man, whoever did that, they were some clever.

Jay replied that he loves “A Fifth of Beethoven” too.
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