Sunday, December 04, 2005


pissarro & maureen fitzwilliams

fueled by those iconic aussie foodstuffs -- i mean a flattie & a lamington -- i hit sydney's art gallery to see the current pissarro exhibit. this was after pondering the selection of king island and other domestic aussie cheeses in the david jones foodhall, which is rather a cross between dean & deluca and fortum & mason.

but as usual i'm getting ahead of myself. . .let me step back to say that on average the food in sydney is much better than that of nyc, but alas costs even more.

as long as you're prepared to drop serious cash -- scrambled eggs and toast that cost US$4.50 in nyc will run you A$11.80, but in sydney they will be fantastic, organic, free-range soft and yummy scrambled eggs with artisan white sourdough toast -- you'll be happy with the quality. absolutely.

so yesterday after this amazing brunch i ran over to the zoo on the ferry to see the best view of the harbor, which is enjoyed by the giraffes. in any other city, developers would have put high-rise condos on this hill and sold the view for millions of dollars each.

not here -- the giraffes peacefully graze with one of the planet's most beautiful water overlooks. it is truly quite close in loveliness to that of the bay of naples or from capri. photos do not do justice to the seashell texture of the sydney opera house.

and i must say the aussies seem more than a little bit unaware of this: do they really not comprehend how absolutely gorgeous it is here? with the exception of course of the marvelous maureen fitzwilliams of south highland, aged 76.

so. unlike such an exhibit in nyc, aussies wandering thru the pissarro chat. it's true -- they are a friendly people. they just cluster in front the art and begin talking to total strangers about it, mate.

whereas in nyc everyone would don their best black to view the art in either reverential or ironic silence. thus i am standing in front of picture 88, "afternoon sunshine, pont neuf," 1901, when white-haired margaret fitzwilliams turns to me and says, "lovely, isn't it?"

it just so happens that i saw this painting some time ago at the museum in philly, where it normally lives. and i must confess that prefer pissarro's landscapes, esp. his supple, almost nubile, trees.

but there i was, meeting the forthright maureen fitzwilliams, full of vim and vigor, just magnificent, an aussie country lady of the classic type. what a spitfire!

upon discerning that i was an american tourist, she immediately demanded to know how i found australia. as i waxed poetic about the giraffes' great fortune and compared it to the bay of naples, she instantly leapt in -- "oh no," she said, "not at all. the view is actually much better in sydney because vesuvius, while dramatic, blocks the view of the country so you cannot appreciate the green."

i love australia. this would never happen in new york!

posted by fortune | 8:27 PM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 7 comments

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