When Vanity Fair released the results of its poll for the best piece of architecture built in the last 30 years, Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Bilbao Museum had the most votes by far. Twenty-eight of the 52 people surveyed--most of them leading architects, academics and critics--voted for the Bilbao museum, compared with the next best thing, Renzo Piano's Menil Collection museum in Houston, which got nine.
Gehry's lopsided victory inspired a lenghty piece in the magazine by Matt Tyrnauer, a Vanity Fair editor who oversaw the survey. The piece does an excellent job explaining Gehry's artistic evolution, from his first inspired moment seeing the Chartes Cathedral, to his later influences like seeing the combines of Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. But perhaps most interesting, Tyrnauer notes the importance of fish. Gehry's fascination with the species lend his mature work their nautical, silvery and often bulbous shape. Often, you see their shiny curves, and think, salmon! Or if you're Jewish, lox!
Gehry is of course Jewish (ne Goldberg). So you can't help but wonder whether his fascination with fish actually has something to do with lox. That's what I was thinking when I read Tyrnauer's essay, but I was wrong. Lox has nothing to do it.
The whole Michael Steele controversy – the latest in a long series for the foot-in-mouth-prone Republican National Committee chairman – must be making Jewish liberals very uncomfortable.
Steele is getting savaged by fellow Republicans for saying the Afghanistan war is a “war of Obama's choosing,” and that the one thing the President should know is that you “don't ... engage in a land war in Afghanistan... because everyone who's tried over a thousand years of history has failed."
The strange and amusing tale of six IDF soldiers featured on YouTube dancing to a cheesy pop song while on patrol in Hebron seems to have played itself out, now that an spokesman for the army has said they will not investigate the matter further. But it says a lot about the uniqueness of Israel's army.
Some of the nastiest email I get is on the issue of immigration reform. To read these missives, you'd never know that Jewish groups have been at the forefront of the effort to overhaul a badly broken legal immigration system and offer a path to citizenship for those here illegally.
Last week the big poetry news was W.S. Merwin's appointment as the U.S. Poet Laureate. It's a largely symbolic honor, but an incredibly big one all the same. And yet it was hard not to fall upon the easy story-line, which most in the press did: why him?