WORLD’s 2018 Books of the Year
A New York moment:
By the piers in swanky Battery Park City, curators set up a very serious outdoor sculpture show. The intended audience: dogs. Yes, this was an art show specifically for dogs, and because of the high demand, owners had to reserve time slots for their dogs to experience the art. “What was your favorite art, Harry?” a staffer asked an unresponsive poodle. The assembled gallery visitors were mostly childless, and the “exhibits” seemed designed for Instagram purposes.
One couple vainly spent about 10 minutes trying to put their dog in a tiny pink armchair for a photo. One sculpture formed a triangular shallow pool, and an owner was attempting to drag the ambivalent dog into the pool. Sculptures were surrounded in astroturf for when the dogs inevitably followed the call of nature, sometimes on the “art” itself. Staffers canvassed the “gallery” with a hose to clean up.
This fits the overall trend of New Yorkers treating their dogs with more precious attention than children. One time I witnessed a dog owner in Riverside Park become indignant when a woman asked if she could pet the dog. “You [the human] might get my dog sick,” the owner said.
Worth your time:
The New York Public Library has a new digital collection of the “Green Book,” a travel guide for black families in the Jim Crow era. An African-American mailman created the series when he was traveling to visit family, and it was so popular he expanded it to cover the country. Paging through the guides to hotels and restaurants that will help African-Americans avoid “difficulties and embarrassments” is heartbreaking. It reminds me of the excellent book that documents the perils of Jim Crow-era travel, The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson.
This week I learned:
A court case you might not know about:
A federal district judge in Wisconsin recently ruled that the parsonage allowance, a tax break for clergy, violates the Establishment Clause. This is the result of yet another lawsuit from the atheist Freedom From Religion Foundation. Becket Law is appealing the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which previously threw out a similar lawsuit on standing grounds.
Culture I am consuming:
Roman J. Israel, Esq., a film from Denzel Washington and Dan Gilroy, the writer/director of last year’s Nightcrawlers. I did a group interview with Washington and Gilroy; Washington, an outspoken Christian, used the time to read a Scripture passage to reporters. A review of the film, set for a Thanksgiving wide release, is forthcoming!