Is it just the mood I’m in, or was there a particular richness in today’s New York Times? Blinking to Times articles kept me busy all morning; sort of like the old days when my family would curl up with the print edition of the Sunday Times most of the morning…

The Cleanup: “There are Israelis who disagree with this rapid-recovery policy, who argue that the lack of memorials to the victims of terrorism, the speed with which the physical scars are plastered over, have the effect of minimizing the horror, of robbing each event of its awful specificity. But the policy is designed to deliver a message to Israelis as well, one both subtle and disturbing. In a land caught in a seemingly ceaseless cycle of revenge and counterrevenge, where the attacks of one side beget an immediate response from the other, the cleanup crews at sites like the Park Hotel send an implicit warning: Don’t mourn too long for this attack; gird yourself for those to come.” NY Times Magazine



Final Chapter: “A year ago, (Carol) Shields was given a rare opportunity. Say you’re a novelist, one of the few who have managed to have it all ways: honored by prize committees, respected by critics, admired by your fiction-writing peers, yet no stranger to the best-seller list. You are given a diagnosis that is the equivalent of a death sentence. The talk is of months, not years. You prepare yourself to say goodbye, and then your doctors decide to try an experimental treatment. Somehow it works, and at least temporarily all bets are off. You have a surge of what feels like pure adrenaline. Incredibly, another novel seems possible. What kind of book do you write?” NY Times


Finding the Stuff of Art in the Gutter:

Walking on the Lower East Side of Manhattan six years ago, Tom Fruin noticed a yellow plastic drug baggie. Curious, he picked it up, thinking that as an artist he could do something with it.

He did. Over the next 18 months, Mr. Fruin, 27, who lives in Brooklyn, collected almost 3,000 drug bags from around the city. They were plastic or glassine, some clear, others solid-colored or patterned, and they ranged from pinkie-nail-size crack bags to credit-card-size marijuana packets. He sewed them together into a quilt that sold for $20,000.

These days, collectors are snapping up Mr. Fruin’s works faster than he can make them. His first solo show, at the Stefan Stux Gallery in Chelsea last year, sold out. Almost all of the 19 quilts in his second solo exhibit, “Cultural Narcotics: The Straight Dope,” were already sold when the show opened at Stux on March 30. The buyers included the actor Willem Dafoe, who paid $30,000 for a piece.


Epiphany in a Vibrant Universe

Depicting Nothing but Itself:

[Genesis N the Break (1946]

‘(Barnett Newman’s) reputation as a major American painter, the textbook view today, didn’t take hold until the 1960’s. Younger artists like Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, Frank Stella and Richard Serra, whose works Newman didn’t even necessarily regard as related to his own, began to describe his art as crucial to them. But even then, showing at the Guggenheim in 1966 his “Stations of the Cross,” a seemingly plain group of 14 raw canvases with a few black lines, Newman was mostly lambasted.’


IRS Erroneously Paid Slavery Credits. I love this one. There’s a scam going around telling African American taxpayers that, for a fee, they can get tax credits or refunds as reparations for slavery. Last year more than 77,000 tax returns made a claim for these funds. Here’s the funny part: the IRS actually paid out around $30 million in such claims, even though no such claim is supported in the tax code. “Most of the mistaken payments were for about $43,000, a figure Essence magazine suggested in 1993 as the updated value of 40 acres and a mule, which some freed slaves were given under an order by a Union general during the Civil War. …Starting Monday, the IRS will be begin levying a $500 fine on taxpayers who do not withdraw the claim if they have been caught.” Associated Press …Does this suggest that it’s that easy for anyone to get away with a substantial claim for a nonexistent tax credit?

[My apologies to non-U.S. readers. You may not know that this is Tax Weekend (as I’ve begun to see it referred to), just before the April 15th deadline for Americans to file their income tax return for 2001. Without the pleasure of making the acquaintance of the intricacies of the U.S. tax code, you probably fail to comprehend either how  a farce such as the above could occur or why it would be so amusing. As a matter of fact, I may have only non-U.S. readers this weekend, as the rest of you frantically labor to finish your returns…]


In a Forceful Speech, Gore Criticizes Administration. ‘ORLANDO, Fla., April 13 — Declaring that “here in America, patriotism does not mean keeping quiet,” former Vice President Al Gore re-emerged today at the scene of the 2000 electoral crisis, forcefully — and noisily — taking on President Bush on tax cuts, the environment and other issues.’ Still blowing both ways; he couldn’t have sounded more like the gracefully defeated candidate rallying behind the president in his post-Sept 11 comments; now he reinvents himself once again when the occasion suits him.