Summer in the City

I love summer. The days are longer, and it’s easier to do things. Evening walks are a distraction from daily stresses and worries. The air is warm and it’s still light out around 8, perfect for spotting raccoons enjoying urban life. Evening walks remind me of my childhood – walking with my parents, or sitting on the front steps of our house and listening to the sounds of our street.

Maybe that’s why I liked so much Vivian Gornick’s “The Odd Woman and the City”. Walking is restorative and allows Gornick to form brief connections to the characters she encounters in her walks. Her “glass is half empty” vision is familiar to me; she and her friend Leonard deal in prickly honesty that can only happen if true intimacy exists. Gornick’s loneliness is not solitude. That’s why she seeks out the city. A wonderful memoir that’s thin but not on substance.

I’m not sure that “Clouds of Sils Maria” is not thin on substance. It is beautiful to look at – landscape and people (well, at least the women). It starts out on a train and you can’t go wrong with that. Juliette Binoche is at her petulant best. Kristen Stewart has no trouble keeping up with Binoche. It’s a smart and engaging performance (“Day for Night”?) the movie is a rumination on aging, fragility of the ego, and art vs. life. Oh, and there is a lot of hiking.

I was walking through Trinity Bellwoods with a friend and suddenly we saw nestled between trees a large screen, with images projected onto it, changing and accompanied by sounds. Photographs of Nureyev, Mae West, Elvis’ “The Kiss”, giant cats and other fragments of cultural history. It’s part of Luminato. The artist is Geoffrey Farmer and the installation is entitled “Look in my face; my name is Might-have-been; I am also called No-more, Too-late, Farewell.” Yes, there is a connection to Marcel Proust – the quote refers to a dedication written on the back of a photograph given to Proust in 1893.


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