What a wonderful world…

First, our visit with Beijing’s People’s Daily gives us this rather optimistic assessment of the progress made by new Palestinian Premier Mahmoud Abbas with respect to securing cease fire agreements with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and other details associated with negotiations at Sharm Al Sheikh (Sinai) in Egypt.
I remain cautiously optimistic that Israel realizes that the opening allowed by the death of Arafat (who singlehandedly blocked the possibility of peace in the region for decades) will not last forever. Israel appears to be working closely with Abbas to nail down Palestinian security, to move forward on the withdrawal from Gaza, and hopefully, to start doing the hard work of discussing the actual dismantling of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and moving “the fence” accordingly. Again, cautiously optimistic. It was the late Abba Eban who quipped that the Arabs never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity; it is now the Israelis who have the opportunity.
I took the opportunity to amble through New York’s Central Park (where I also ran a leisurely pace in the Al Gordon 15K), where the next forthnight or so, we host Cristo (and le’t not forget Jeanne Claude) and his The Gates project, gates more in the sense of slalom gates than garden gates, what amount to orange shower curtains 8 to 10 feet off the ground elevated on orange structural steel supports at various intervals erected on over 20 miles of walkways throughout every corner of the park.
I fail to see why this is controversial: I find it an absolute riot. The fact that New York can expect millions of dollars in tourist dollars (and Cristo will doubtless make millions as well) is just gravy. This is public art at its most amusing: utterly pointless, but aesthetically pleasing in its own right, and on an inconceivably massive scale for a two week installation (costing over $20 million just to install, and involving thousands upon thousands of “gates”). Cristo really does interesting stuff… is it “art”?
Well, it is a triumph of imagination, it is aesthetically pleasant, and it serves no intrinsically useful purpose… I would say that it is, indeed, art… and the best kind of art: art that makes you smile.
Frankly, the world could use more Cristos– people who want to do massive, silly, harmless things… (well, mostly harmless… I understand someone was electrocuted by lightning during one of his umbrella installations)… and not have wars and witch trials and that sort of thing.
Of course, that’s just me.