(photos by Pamela Harris except for the second photo which is anonymous)
About a week after our dear Opal passed we went outside and aimlessly headed north. Near 12th St. we went west and ended up climbing the stairs to the Highline. The Highline is a gorgeous park built amidst what used to be elevated railroad tracks. It runs for about 20 blocks (with more to come) through Chelsea.
Years ago I used to show with a gallery on West 22nd St. and the dealer lived above the gallery. We would sometimes climb onto her fire escape to be eye level with the tracks, which were ten feet away. We could barely make them out under a tangle of grasses, plants and flowers, a wilderness here at the edge of the city. The street below was a gay cruise spot and the dealer and I would contemplate the beauty of this deserted expanse to nowhere, and then look down and watch a guy get a bl*wjob. (I'm not a prude. The server bounces anything explicit.)
Over the past decade every empty lot, gas station, taxi stand and undervalued building in Chelsea got razed or rebuilt. In much of the new construction, the architects seem uniquely interested in manipulating the skin of the building via undulations or unique materials. These buildings also have organic footprints and are constructed out of a mishmash of parts that randomly jut wherever. Some of these buildings are spectacular in how they seamlessly transition from the outside to inside and show the architects complete vision down to the screws. In other buildings, especially residential buildings, the transition is rocky and results in a lot of wasted space where odd angles create useless corners, foyers that are larger than bedrooms, or awkward unusable space between dining and living rooms.
One building I love is the new New School building on Fifth Avenue in the village. It looks like something dropped from the sky and gouged out part of its facade. I never tire of looking at it, a test for a building's staying power. The skyline in Chelsea is all new and chaotic, an architectural free for all that has no rhythm yet. It reminds me of the lines of people I see outside the passport office around the corner where hip hop stands next to Yiddish Theater which stands next to Spanish telenova who's next to Brooklyn hipster in front of the Burmese monk who's robe clashes with the Muslim's Keffiyeh. The only thing this line has in common is how oblivious each person is to whomever is next to them. That's how Chelsea's skyline feels, like each building is waiting its turn for attention so it can do its business then get out of there.
I miss the dog. We're getting another for sure, but today it's raining and Opal would balk at going out so we'd all pile into the living room and eat snacks and watch hours of TV.
Our internet went down for the week of Thanksgiving. Ironically, I was working on a post about how electronics don't last and how connectivity can be temperamental despite an absolute reliance on both. The post started in my head a few months ago, when I read Sheryl Sandberg's book, 'Lean In.' In it she has a throwaway line about Facebook's culture, how the goal there was to make something 'good enough.' Not great, not perfect, but good enough. I get that products can be improved upon and, given how fast technology changes, being the first one in matters. But to me 'good enough' means it's not ready, it's not finished, it still needs work. Right as I was putting self righteous fingers to keys, we lost our connection. For almost a week. And that's what I think of good enough.