I’m back in my Washington hotel room once more, having just wrapped up another excruciatingly long day.
I’ve been too busy to visit the hotel gym, so I decided to work up a sweat by walking to the Old Post Office instead of taking a cab. As I left the hotel at eight-thirty, I noticed two Secret Service snipers lurking on the White House roof–a sight I’d never seen–as well as a hardy little group of picketers marching up and down the sidewalk, chanting “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Wal-Mart’s got to go!” to the accompaniment of a banging drum as a nearby cameraman clicked away.
The National Council on the Arts met from nine to six (we worked straight through lunch, dining on pasta salad at the conference table). Afterward I hopped a cab to the Phillips Collection, my favorite museum, where I saw a lovely show called Degas, Sickert and Toulouse-Lautrec: London and Paris, 1870-1910, assembled in collaboration with Tate Britain and installed with exceptional elegance and lucidity by the staff of the Phillips. You can read all about it by clicking the link, so I’ll say only that I just saw more paintings by Walter Sickert in a single evening than I’d previously seen in my entire life, in addition to which I also made the acquaintance of some interesting works by several other English artists who are rarely if ever shown in this country. I especially liked a Max Beerbohm-like caricature of Toulouse-Lautrec
by William Rothenstein, Beerbohm’s classmate and close friend.
(Incidentally, I learned at today’s meeting that the Phillips Collection has digitized its entire collection of American paintings, an undertaking for which the NEA helped to pay. Go here and you can browse the museum’s online collection, which is a model of art-related Web-site design.)
I went from the Phillips to Olives, where I had a tasty, unhurried, and solitary dinner (I was supposed to meet a friend, but she had to cancel at the last minute). Now I’m about to curl up in bed with Michael Ruhlman’s Walk on Water: Inside an Elite Pediatric Surgical Unit, a remarkable book that Our Girl gave me for my fiftieth birthday but which I’ve only just looked into, perhaps because books about heart surgery aren’t the most comforting leisure-time reading for someone who recently survived a bout with congestive heart failure!
On Friday morning the NCA holds a public meeting, after which I’ll take the next train back to New York, rest a bit, then head down to the Zipper Theatre to see a press preview of the new off-Broadway revival of Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris. I have yet another show on Saturday afternoon, followed by a full day of writing for The Wall Street Journal.
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I’ll be holed up in one of my secret hideaways all next week, working on Hotter Than That: A Life of Louis Armstrong. I’ll probably post a daily almanac entry and the usual Thursday and Friday drama-related stuff, but absolutely no more than that (though I’m sure Our Girl will have something to say from time to time).