We sometimes forget that Buddha actually had a good sense of humor. The other week I told one example of his stories through Skype to the publisher of the Third Rail, the artist Cameron Gainer, and his editorial staff, at the celebratory launch party for their first issue:
A traveler, fleeing a tiger that chased him, ran and ran until he came to the edge of a cliff. To escape, he caught hold of a thick vine, and swung himself over the edge. Above him the same tiger snarled down. Then lo and behold he heard another snarl. Sure enough, it was from a tiger peering up at him from below. It was a shituation (a term invented by my friend Lisa Yuskavage), to put it mildly: to be suspended midway between two tigers.
In the midst of these threats there appeared on the vine above him two mice, a white mouse and a black mouse. They began to chew. He could see that they were quickly eating the vine through. Fortunately, he saw right in front of him on the cliffside a luscious bunch of grapes. While one hand held the vine, he reached the other out, picked a grape, took a bite, and said, “How delicious!”
This is a condition that all of us at the Rail have been experiencing throughout this past year. Everything we did was out of necessity. We essentially adapted ourselves to these various and relentless situations of one form or another. A full circle has indeed now been completed. Instead of being mournful of Sandy’s powerful destruction, in the spirit of renewal we have successfully curated an exhibition in collaboration with the Dedalus Foundation and Industry City, which was not only to commemorate Sandy’s one-year anniversary, but also to celebrate the resilient spirit of our fellow artists who were joined by their peers to enhance the permeating sentiment of solidarity. By doing so, we set out to organize over 12 additional events, including poetry and fiction readings, panel discussions about art conservation, film screenings, dance and music performances, and interviews with Sandy victims, as well as dance workshops for children, youth poetry workshops, and nearly 100 exhibition tours for students from kindergarten, grade school, middle school, and high school to those from undergraduate and graduate schools of all disciplines. In addition, we produced the November 2013 and the December 2013/January 2014 issues on the site of the Sandy exhibit (in fact the Critics Page of the latter, dedicated to the centennial celebration of Ad Reinhardt and brilliantly co-edited by Alex Bacon and Barbara Rose with the support of Anna Reinhardt and Daniel J. Desmond of the Reinhardt Foundation, was so substantive that it had to be printed as an independent publication). We also launched Brooklyn Rail Curatorial Projects with the exhibition Correspondences: Ad Reinhardt at 100. And we made it all happen within three short months, as a labor of love.
We would like to dedicate this issue to Ted Hamm, the Rail’s co-founder, and editor of the Local and Express sections for 13 years; Dave Mandl, our music editor of 10 years; Christopher McKenzie, Frank Del Deo, and Patterson Sims, our three board members, all of whom have stepped down after years of devoting their endless energies and wisdoms to shape the vision of the Rail into what it is today, especially over the last few years when the Rail needed to redirect itself to new fertile ground. For that we’re forever grateful to them.
Here I leave you a few last lines from Andrew Marvell’s well-known poem To His Coy Mistress:
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Through the iron gates of life.
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.
Many thanks again for all of your support to keep the Rail alive and free to the public.
In solidarity and happy holidays,