....and during the day. We also got a chance to catch up with some great Peace Corps friends, went to the presidents church on Sunday morning (we sat behind the head of the FBI Robert Mueller), and had a fancy dinner at some famous guy's restaurant whose name I forget.
It was raining for part of the time, which one might imagine would have put a damper on the trip; however, Washington DC is a great place to be in the rain. There are so many wonderful museums right on the mall and we had a great time in spite of the weather. A highlight for me was this painting that I've been wanting to see in person for some time
It's a painting by the Armenian artist Arshile Gorky, and is perhaps the most famous/known Armenian painting in the West (there are actually two copies of it I believe). The movie Ararat is partially based around it's creation. It's based on a picture taken with his mother in Van just before the Armenian Genocide in which his mother died of starvation. The story that I heard many times while in Armenia was he couldn't seem to paint his mother's hands satisfactorily, as it brought him too much pain; they made her memory too real for him. So he kept trying to paint them, only to scrape off the paint in disgust at his inability to do a proper rendering which did his mother's memory justice. You could really see the relief on the painting where he had again-and-again scrapped off the paint of her hands. I have no real opinion on the aesthetics of the painting, but I think it's a cool story.
We had a chance to attend our first wedding in the Bronx, and what a wedding it was. She is Zulu and grew up in South Africa, and he is from somewhere in the American South (Perhaps Alabama). They've actually been married for years and have 2 kids (another on the way), but her family finally had the chance to make it to the states to celebrate.
They decided to have a traditional American wedding and then flip-the-script and have a traditional Zulu wedding. Sarah spent the better part of a week trying to locate a proper dashiki and a proper dress for the occasion. As expected, she succeeded (you can't stop Sarah):
Not everyone was able to find the proper attire in time, but I was glad that we had.
All in all it was an interesting experience, especially the Zulu portion of the wedding. There was lots of dancing, and the father/patriarch of the family running around with his traditional gown and headdress grabbing the microphone and making various statements about proper female subservience.
Sarah and I are continuing to try and check off all those boxes of things we “must-do” before we leave New York. It’s my observation that ‘New Yorkers’ (whether transplants of natives) are tirelessly driven to attach themselves to exclusivity and superlativity (not a word I realize… but I’m using it anyway) in any way they can. So for example, people are not satisfied to go to a pudding restaurant (yes… that’s a restaurant which only serves pudding), they will instead seek out a pudding restaurant that is not well known so that they can visit it with a goal of - at their next social gathering - blatantly steering the conversation towards pudding and then declare that they’ve found, “the BEST pudding restaurant in the city… and the best part about it… it still hasn’t become popular, so it’s not all crowded with tourists yet.” I personally find all of it exhausting. Why do I bring this up? Two reasons: 1) I get annoyed with it and sometimes shamelessly use blog posts as catharsis and 2) To explain the challenge in wading through all the self-serving suggestions and those which may perhaps have merit. We tend to stick with the tried and true, more traditional spots to check of our list….
Thus we ended up recently at these two legendary New York delis:
Moving right along.... One of the perks of being a student and living near campus is that we have the chance to attend some great lectures. We were excited to attend the recent Gannon Lecture. I was super interested as Sarah’s grandfather - when he learned I would attending Fordham -graciously gave me a wonderful book by Rev. Robert Gannon, S.J. called After Black Coffee. Reverend Gannon was a famous after dinner speaker (when after dinner speakers could still be famous) and the book transcribes some of his most famous speeches which touch on various social issues of the time. He really was quite a speaker (clear even through just the transcriptions) and so Sarah and I were excited to attend the annual Dean’s Gannon Lecture. Plus it was a fancy lecture so there was a nice spread of good food and an open bar... but who wants to see pictures of a lecture... I'll leave it there.