Paul Theroux wrote an editorial in the New York Times this morning about world population and its affect on him and, to some extent, the rest of us. It is a crowded world for sure. Theroux talks more about how the crowding is changing our outlook, not on what should be done about it. That needs no explanation, but I will beat the drum for him.

Does immigration reform slow down population growth? No. The people coming into the USA are looking for space and growth opportunities and are already existent. Besides, world population growth is a world wide phenomenon so any solution has less to do with laws than with man’s common sense.

Population growth as it is today is the single greatest problem we face on earth. Global warming, energy shortages, clean air and water are outgrowths of this problem. Why the world has done nothing to solve this problem will only lead to catastrophes whether they are natural such as last year’s Tsunami in the Indian Ocean or Katrina in New Orleans, or man made such as wars and famines in Darfur and Iraq, oil spills, unsafe working conditions such as those in Bhopal and the Russian reactor that blew up, viral outbreaks resistant to medication, etc. ad infinitum.

Why isn’t the problem being addressed? The Catholic church gets more money the more Catholics that exist in this world. China and India, whose populations show no sign of slowing reap enormous power at having a virtually infinite work force. Capitalism, and by extension globalization, thrives on expanding markets, i.e., a greater population. The vested interests in unchecked population growth are enormous. The sanctity of human life is a paradoxical concept for those whose life begins and ends in abject poverty and disease.

It just makes you want to be a Canadian.

And by the way, Holland Cotter should be boiled in oil for grouching about the rather superb exhibits currently on view in New York saying that, and I paraphrase because I did not save the article, the exhibits showed us nothing new about the art on display. Horse manure! Every time I look at a good (it does not have to be great) painting, my mind gets something else to think about. New York City was extremely lucky this year and it is hardly likely we will again have such chances in the near future.


My first Christmas in England required a small adjustment on my part. When I said, “Merry Christmas”, I was informed that it was “Happy Christmas” and furthermore a “Merry New Year”. A “Merry New Year”? An entire year or making merrry? My mind conjured up dancing elves in the forest celebrating ad nauseum, perhaps because making merry is the stuff of fairy tales and happy endings.

I wised up and stopped wishing people anything. Fast forward to political correctness and it is now, at least in the USA where making merry is circumscribed by the 25th of December, “Happy Holidays”. Whew! I think if we all said good morning to each other as often as possible, we’d come a damn sight closer to making merry and possibly become a civilized nation. (Believe me, I know it ain’t easy to do every morning.)

Peace on Earth remains my favorite apothegm. Meanwhile, “Happy…….,”


The New York Times had an article yesterday about a house that is going to be torn down in Westport. A modernist house designed by Paul Rudolph, a student of Walter Gropius of the Bauhaus Movement, it has, according to its owner, great views of Long Island Sound. It has been sold to someone who wants to raze it and build something not so modern.

Having grown up in the era of American modernist architecture, I well remember the use of plexiglass, glass, unfinished woods such as teak, white marble and vinyl with the occasional shag rug thrown in as the interiors of these houses. The light of these houses was always great, but the interior design, a lot of light fixtures that looked like geometric exercises and furniture with brass tipped feet was cold. It was an era banking on the future of basic geometry in home design, sort of an ex post Deco.

The memories of that era are sketchy, but what I can’t get over is how we are seeing the decorating of that era resurfacing. It was simplistic then and is now. Deco had guts and glamor. But maybe simple is what is  required for today. I am not certian whether it matters that the houses that this stuff were made for are disappearing. Someone always seems to care, which is a good thing, but then the world always moves on and good tends to be both forgottern and remembered. I guess this house and all the others like it are just waiting for…….,


Michael Kimmelman’s review in the New York Times of the Velasquez to Picasso exhibition at the Guggenheim gushed with praise. I went to it yesterday and I have to say, even though my knowledge of art is limited, there are pictures in the exhibition that will stay in my mind for a long time. Spanish artists took the power of their art very seriously as they revealed their subjects in ways even the sitters might not have realized.

I cannot condemn contemporary art as there is probably a great deal out there that is superb. Bill Jacklin, for example who exhibits at the Marlborough Gallery. What I am mystified by is a great deal of installation and/or conceptual art. This is not to question the artists, but instead to try and understand why our culture seems so enamored by what is often, in essence, relatively obscure cultural references. I remember an isntallation of a brick wall at the Tate. Huh?

I bumped into an old master drawing dealer friend at the Guggenheim and he was beside himself with what he was looking at. “Phenomenal, spectacular, once in a lifetime” were his words. He then said he was going to see the greatest collection of art in the world shortly. I missed the irony and exhausted the obvious locations quickly. “Art Basel in Miami” he said with a chuckle. He shrugged and walked to the next painting.