Thursday, April 26, 2007

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Back from DC now, with no bad Von Hippel-Lindau-related news at present. Thanks for all the goodwill. I did less sightseeing than usual, mostly strolling and working on my sunburn and taking drinks at the rooftop bar of the Hotel Washington. There I met an heiress of indecipherable middle age whose family, she claimed, had once owned the hotel, but had sold it for ready cash. She drank Irish Coffee, though it was after midnight, and said she no longer bothered with doctors as they had poked and prodded but never done her any good. Well, you can't argue with success.

I did have dinner with Thomas Nephew, who's a prince -- smarter and better educated politically than I by several orders of magnitude, as his weblog daily demonstrates, yet still willing to engage my bilious, jejune prattle. He happily maintains a wife, child, and pets, and also an easy-going sense of humor and perspective, despite his proximity to the thrumming engines of government that comprise much of his subject matter, which would drive me madder than I am -- I wonder how he does it? He matched me beer for beer, so I doubt that he takes sedatives. Remarkable fellow.

Also saw the Jasper Johns show at the National Gallery. The exhibition was full of studies and multiple versions, which added to the impression that any subject, however silly, may be elevated by talent and obsessive hard work. It's just amazing how much energy is still in those paintings, even when they're so thick with scrawls, smears and impastos that the lines of force seem to be cancelling each other out. It's like the subjects -- targets, cans, compasses, legs, and assorted gee-gaws -- so mesmerized him, simple as they were, that they became mysteries that he had to paint his way out of.

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