Posted by: fullandbye | August 26, 2008

in which Raz drives a rescue boat and spends a week in San Francisco

So, the Washington Yacht Club made me a chief. This is sorta like being made an admin of a web community, except that this is not a web community. In any case, it is sort of a big deal, but sort of not. I don’t really know.

It did mean I was obligated to drive the Rescue Boat on a big group sailing trip to Blake Island on the weekend of 8.16-17. Driving a rescue boat on Puget Sound is sorta fun, but it was a long day and a lot of work. On the way back there was glassy calm and an unfavorable current, so I ended up towing 4 boats from Restoration Point all the way up to Shilshole. Long day. I was exhausted by the end of it.

I bade farewell to my brother on Sunday the 17th. He is currently en route to Philadelphia to live for awhile. I will miss that kid.

6:30 am flight on Monday (my birthday) to San Francisco. I managed to fall asleep before the plane took off and remained asleep until we hit the tarmac in SF. It was pretty much the most enjoyable flight of my life.

While in the Bay Area I
1) Saw Anna and walked around Berkeley and
2) saw Amy and ate oysters and drank wine with surf hitting the breakwater upon which we sat and
3) hung out with some bird nerds and
4) met David Parker’s parents and
5) took an awesome hike in Marin County and
6) saw the RGBG folks and
7) visited three amazing art museums and
8) rode lots of buses and
9) had an August Birthday’s of Awesomeness Party at Zeitgeist with Sierra, Claire, Elliot, Camden, Laura, Anna, Arcadia, and some others and
10) sat next to a really drunk, really big man named Frederico at Zeitgeist and
11) exclaimed “catastrophia!” whenever anything even remotely catastrophic happened and
12) visited the folks at Rivendell Bicycle Works and test rode a bunch of bicycles and
13) walked around The Mission district a whole bunch and had an amazing burrito and
14) saw Radiohead live at Golden Gate Park and
15) visited Camden at his job and stayed at his lovely apartment and
16-99) had a wonderful time.

I am generally pretty unimpressed with Chihuly’s work. It is not just that he is a shameless self-promoter (Dali was worse), but rather that his art tends to resemble either plankton or onions or onions descended from plankton (plankton descended from onions?). It tends to be garish, ugly, gaudy stuff that seems better suited to Liberace’s bedroom than the places where it tends to be displayed. But Chihuly was on display at the De Young museum and I was absolutely enamored with his exhibit. Truly, I can say that it was the finest exhibit of art I have ever not seen. I harbor such love towards this exhibit simply because it did a magnificent job of siphoning about 80% of museumgoers away from the rest of the art and into the cave of the plankton-onion obsessed cyclops. This left the rest of the museum more or less empty and open for me to explore. The collection was phenomenal. I knew that the American collection was wonderful but the Africa collection just blew me away. I walked through the museum in a dreamy haze and promptly forgave Chihuly for all the dreadful chandeliers and the PBS specials where he babbles on and on about the Venetians.

My goodwill held for approximately 24 hours.

The next day (Sunday) I found myself at the museum of the Palace of the Legion of Honor. This museum is relatively small and is profoundly Eurocentric. The main attraction (for me at least) at this museum is their exquisite collection of Rodin. Understand that I love Rodin. Seeing Rodin when I was 16 was quite literally a life changing experience. The Rodin is displayed in three soaring chambers at the back of the palace. The central chamber is just behind the museum lobby and a chamber flanks the central chamber to each side. The display is simply lovely; spartan, elegant, full of light, allowing the viewers to circulate around the sculpture examining any work from all angles. I spent a good 20 minutes or so in the central chamber before venturing into the chamber to the left. Rodin sculptures ringed the chamber, but there in the center, completely dominating the space, was a grotesque Chihuly sculpture that I swear was inspired by this image of E-coli:

There was no ignoring it. I wanted to cry. I tried to focus on the sculpture, but my efforts were futile. The ugliness of the E-coli pervaded the space so completely that I left feeling sick to my stomach. The symbolic irony of this so overwhelmed me that for a moment I entertained the thought that perhaps Chihuly is a greater genius than I give him credit for. I ventured into the far right chamber to find more Rodin, and another, equally ugly Chihuly sculpture that looked like an enormous koosh ball.

Defeated, I wandered through the rest of the museum, sometimes enchanted, sometimes indifferent, until I stumbled upon a woman administering surveys in exchange for a free poster. I took the survey and when I brought up the topic, she subtly suggested I write a note describing my take on the Chihuly situation. She then praised my taste in art and assured me that I was not the first to express disappointment with the curators for this decision.

If there is any justice in this world, in the afterlife Chihuly will be forced to play bocce with Rodin for an hour a day. Given his lack of depth perception, these games will almost certainly result in wondrous comedy. Tickets to this daily show will be distributed to all of us who had to endure his gargantuan tributes to digestive microbes, aquatic micro-organisms, and onions.

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