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Weather: Mostly cloudy. Areas of fog in the morning. A chance of showers with a slight chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. Highs around 80. South winds 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40 percent. Saturday Night: A slight chance of thunderstorms in the evening. Mostly cloudy with a chance of showers. Areas of fog after midnight. Lows in the lower 60s. Southwest winds around 5 mph. Chance of rain 40 percent.
Today at the Editor’s Glance:
It is the last day of the year. Spend it unwisely: it’s not as if its 364 predecessors didn’t spend you mercilessly.
The Bach Festival comes to a close at midnight tonight after some 170 hours of Bach interrupted only by the presentation of its Columbia University disk jockeys. The festival was in its zillionth year, streaming free on WKCR here.
Diary: I’ve always been attracted to ruins. I don’t know if it’s a connection with my late father, whom I knew only for 11 years, and only for a few of those years as a conscious boy with the power of memory, and fewer still as a boy who might understand his father as a person unto his own. Among the best of those memories were the many times (many in my memory: they could have been just a few) he would take us around Lebanon to visit ruins–the Roman ruins of Baalbek, my favorite, the Crusaders’ ruins of Byblos and Sida (or Sidon), the Greek ruins of Tyre, where Alexander, who would not be denied, literally built a land bridge to the city to invade it. The bridge remains to this day. Everywhere he took us, my father, a photographer, would spend his day shooting, and we–my brothers and I, my mother and us–ambling around, playing, gazing, all the whole unknowingly taking in the sights and walking the grounds of lost millennia, all the while oblivious to the ruins we were about to be come, down to our own stately old apartment on the Green Line in Beirut. The whole city, the whole country, became a ruin. But the whole country has been the playground of ruins since Phoenician times four, five thousand years ago. We look at Baalbek as art, even in ruins, as it’s been for nearly the past two thousand years. Isn’t that the norm, and the opposite of ruins (what do we call it? Construction? Civilization?) the exception? Mathematically, that seems right, like this attraction to ruins as a reminder for the past nearly half century that my father has been dead that he lives on in the most unexpected places. There’s nothing strange or psychologically unusual about this. Isn’t this why Gibbon, sitting in the ruins of the Coliseum in Rome one day, had his epiphany to write Decline and Fall? Ruins are memory’s DNA. Rub them the right way, and a genie worth a thousand times a thousand and one night emerges. Lucky us on this, the ruin of another year.
Now this: The 10 Days of Bach: Violin Partita no. 2 in D minor BWV 1004, Shunske Sato, violin.
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