The Swimmer


The pond in which I would begin my swim is called Menemsha, and is the second-westernmost body of water along the island’s southern shore. J.’s family has a house up the hill from it, and it was while I was staying there, six summers before, that I had decided that one day I would reenact a version of John Cheever’s short story ‘‘The Swimmer’’ by swimming across the entire length of the island, a 20-mile-long necklace of skinny fingers of land linking dozens of saltwater lakes and ponds, so many of them that when you look at a map, the coastline resembles something that’s been nibbled on by a family of mice.

A Brisk Swim Across Martha's Vineyard | Hanya Yanagihara
T Magazine, New York Times, February 4 2016


Photograph: George Steinmetz

BAMPFA, Old & New


After some thinking about it:

I wish the University of California had used some of the millions they spent on the new BAMPFA space for simultaneously retrofitting and rehabbing their former digs, Mario Ciampi's brutally beautiful building on Bancroft. The interior is a fiercely harsh and inhospitable environment, admittedly, especially for almost any sort of art you might immediately imagine, and the exterior is a challenge, but geez Louise just look at that thing! Come on! I'm the last one to argue for going out of your way to save many beloved old buildings, be it an Art Deco movie palace or a charming lighthouse or even a revered Frank Lloyd Wright (the Ennis-Brown House in Los Angeles, beautifully designed and shabbily constructed, has been crumbling from Day One and should just be put out its misery) but come on! Look at this thing!


Let them have their shiny new space at Center and Oxford but keep the grand old Soviet bunker on Bancroft, too. Make the space work. If you can't make sense of it, if you can't figure out what kind of art to display in it, you shouldn't be running a museum in the first place.

As for the new digs:

Shiny and modestly eccentric on the outside, sort of garagey on the inside. I'm still getting used to it. Check back with me in a couple of years, though I guarantee you I will never like it as much as the Ciampi.