Drawing by Christo for "The Gates" project for Central Park. "The biggest art project in New York City's history," according to Yahoo!News, debuted Saturday "with the unfurling of saffron-colored fabric banners suspended in 16-foot-high frames, providing a splash of sunrise 26 years in the making. 'It's poetry in motion. It's for the moment -- a kind of Zen,' said Barbara Knorr, who came from Switzerland just to see the exhibit." The project cost about $20 million, which set off a lot of hot heads who didn't seem to realize that everything -- including extra security during the 16-day run of the project -- is paid for from proceeds for the sale of Christo's artwork. Our usual allies, New Yorkers of the right, went ballistic in a most unseemly manner, one huffing and puffing that the fluttering, ethereal stream of orange was a travesty of Central Park's pristine wilderness, which in our view is a complete misreading of Frederick Law Olmsted's artful landscape architectural masterpiece.
"So what if it felt like the paths of Benjamin [Editor's note: next day they've corrected it to Frederick] Law Olmsted's urban masterpiece had been turned into a giant suburban back yard of the 1950s where every desperate housewife was hanging their [sic] sheets out to dry at the same moment?" asks an unbecomingly snickering and tendentious -- not to mention ill-informed -- John Podhoretz in the New York Post this morning, displaying an awesome art historical ignorance and philistine blindness to what we ourselves always call "beauty in unexpected places." We're normally persuaded by Podhoretz's political arguments (he pastes on a few boilerplate bits about Giuliani's "broken-windows" philosophy towards the end of the article), but how lame his premise in this case. He's obviously using the occasion of the left's celebration of Christo's work [We don't buy the new, improved title of the wife as fellow artist, by the way, having known of her role as fixer from way back when] to trash the left itself. Can you say CHEAP SHOTS?
First of all, John, it's not Benjamin, but Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of landscape architecture. Being as we -- despite our libertarian handicap -- earned our MLA from FLO's own Design School at HU, we realized at once that you didn't know what the **** you were talking about. How sad. We will always look more skeptically at your pontificating from here on in. Credibility is easily compromised when one steps into unknown waters.
We noticed with dismay that Lucianne -- one of our all-time political faves -- piled on about "The Gates" yesterday as well. Is it simple fear and therefore turning on what they don't understand in self-defense? In that sense, it reminds us of the MSM's recent gratuitous attacks on us salivating pajama pundits. As Hugh Hewitt said on Larry Kudlow's CNBC show the other night [via InstaPundit], "The MSM is losing its cool over the bloggers' relentless quest for truth" and "That's called jealousy in most parts." Most of us political bloggers are serious thinkers with heartfelt views who welcome the blogosphere as a soapbox we can mount to compete with the MSM to promulgate our alternative view of things. When fellow travelers on the right "lose their cool," reflexively trashing artistic brilliance without really looking at it in order to get their digs in at their political opponents, they are the losers.
Then there's The Big Trunk at PowerLine, another biggie in our political universe, who thinks Podhoretz's take is the cat's pajamas (nobody's perfect):
John Podhoretz's New York Post column on "The Gates" that debuted in Central Park over the weekend moves from hilarious art criticism to public policy and back. The headline says it all: "Masterpiece."
We don't hold it against these folks that they've never immersed themselves in the art and craft of placemaking, but these are waters we've inhabited deeply and darkly our whole life, and when it comes to art criticism, these people are all wet.
Birds-eye view of Christo's "The Gate" suggests the artist's vision of an ephemeral "river of light" flowing through Olmsted's NATURALISTIC landscape -- not at all the NATURAL landscape most suppose it to be, but an artificially graded and planted masterpiece of the landscape architect's art. In our mind's eye we picture the magic of the morning-light-colored banners backlit by the sun and all the changing climatic effects throughout the sixteen days of the artwork's visitation. Everyday visitors quoted in various accounts seemed to get it while high-horse types of the right, enraged at the left's embrace of all things Christo, can't seem to see beyond their upturned noses.
"Write what you know" applies not just to novelists, but to journalists and pundits -- and bloggers -- as well. Do the legwork, get up to speed on the facts and believe your eyes. It's the thing bloggers do best, but even they are human.
Update: That otherwise brilliant economist fellow, Daniel W. Drezner, sees "safety orange" where we see early-morning light. Maybe they oughta start teaching a little aht appreciation in these economics graduate programs?