Friday, July 21

Dear Jim,

Another tiring Friday morning. When I got home last night I wound down by winding myself up reading a used book that arrived for me.

I ordered it a week ago. It’s about art. It came in a ripped package and is signed by the author for a guy she knew. She wrote it in 2014.

She says that contemporary painting and sculpture are horseshit, that the successful promotion of abstract art and skillless art has been a great con job. You would agree.

We went to look at art a lot. I usually did not like it. You often explained it to me.

What I remember more than anything are the photographs of the Nazi parades at the S.F. Museum of Art when it was on Van Ness. The photographs were terrifying – thousands of people watching in silent fear as the hot shots walked up the aisle in silence with their uniforms and medals. Those photos gave me a better understanding of the Nazis than any photo of the holocaust or any book, and I’ve read two great ones, about the Nazis.

Another great trip was when we went to the new cathedral right after it was built. There was a sculpture of three of the Church Fathers. They weren’t walking or running, but there was an incredible sense of motion in it.

You thought so too, and there was Gregorian Chant coming from downstairs. Remember? Then we walked to the big window with a view of the Mission and you commented that the architect captured the purpose of The Church – to watch over the city.

That’s interesting because several years ago the parish where Sis2 lives tore down the old church and built a new one as modern for today as the cathedral was for the seventies. The problem is that it doesn’t feel like a church – it feels like a performance center. It’s great to be in. It would be great as an office or to see an acoustic band. But it doesn’t feel awe inspiring or otherworldly.

The old churches had stained glass windows that when the sun shone through them gave a glimpse of what heaven must be like.

The cathedral had a vista of the city we ask forgiveness from, Yo confesio antes Dios todopoderoso, y antes ustedes hermanos…, while we pray to God for the courage to tolerate and embrace the city so we can save ourselves in it.

But Sis2’s church. Well, the priest prances out from the side of the altar, walks across the altar (the stage), smiles and says “Hi everybody!” “Hi Father!” Then he begins a Mass that I can’t take seriously because he doesn’t take his function as a priest and the purpose of the Mass seriously. During the sermon he hopes his favorite team wins the game this afternoon.

Two or three miles from the inspiring cathedral is the church on 24th and Florida one of our uncles used to go to. The neighborhood and parish are Mexican. There’s a famous alley near the church full of Mexican schlock which all the artists claim is highly skilled and profound work.

The church! Christ. The church is painted showing the slaughter of the Aztecs by the conquistadors. It’s terrifying. I wonder why the archbishop allowed the painting. Did he not have the balls to say you guys are nuts; our parishes are meant to welcome anybody, not just Mexicans?

It doesn’t bother the white artists though. Six years ago when dad could still walk pretty good, I said let’s go downtown to see this art exhibit. Dad said sure so we went.

We walked up Powell from Market to the gallery. It was showing paintings by a famous San Franciscan.

The paintings were okay. What I really liked was the old building. I always like old buildings the galleries are in more than the art. The buildings have character but not the art. I would rather talk to the architect about architecture than the artist about art.

When we were done the owner or manager or docent or whatever he was talked to us about the art then asked us to make a donation. Then he gave us some literature and told us the gallery of white artists was raising money for the young non-white artists in the Mission. I thought, “These guys can’t wait to destroy us.”

I know now most white artists want to destroy the European tradition. Just let it flow man. I can’t remember whether we gave money to the gallery.

I remember the rest of the walk. We went a few blocks up, over to the Ritz Carlton, down into the Stockton Tunnel and then to Union Square.

I kept looking at the huge photos of NFL players at one of the stores. They filled me with wonder more than the crap in the gallery.

It was the best memory I have of dad. He enjoyed the gallery. We enjoyed each other.

I usually don’t feel comfortable in San Francisco. It’s really better when I’m with somebody.

That’s it for now.



Copyright © 2021 by David Vaszko