So long, and thanks for all the palmetto bugs
Post #731 • February 15, 2006, 11:14 AM • 47 Comments
After a bit of hand-wringing, but less than you might think, I have decided to relocate in April to an as yet undisclosed location in New England. My circumstances have aligned in a manner that if I sell my house, I can devote a year, maybe more, to painting, writing, and coding, in that order of priority. I feel the necessity to do so at an early enough point in my life that it will make a difference in my career. This move also fulfills a longtime dream of mine to move to the United States of America.
Sorry! No cheap shots! I told myself that I would do this with no cheap shots. But I have to admit that Miami frustrates me more and more the longer I stay here. I feel that I have expended the professional opportunities available to me, and that the city only ever becomes more aggressive, less attractive, busier, crazier, and uncivil. I have little access to the figurative tradition that inspires my work. Common sense suggests that I should live in or near a city that has a Chinatown. Although I have the best colleagues an academic could ever hope to have and some rockstar students, I have been teaching for eleven years and the time has come for me to grant myself the sabbatical that I will never have otherwise.
Oh, and the hurricanes. That's quite enough of that, thank you.
Life here requires a particular kind of equanimity in the face of inefficiency and rudeness, especially the latter. For instance, my primary concern, when I'm driving, is to arrive at my destination with my ass still attached to the rest of my body. As such, I am completely out of sync with the majority, and as drivers here worsen, tailgating (which is insanely dangerous, illegal, and to my knowledge, has never gotten anyone pulled over in the history of the county) has become normal. I have responded by teaching myself not to look in my rear view mirror unless I'm changing lanes. I used to fear for my life when someone followed me at 70 MPH close enough for me to yank the hood ornament off of his Escalade with a single outstretched hand. Now, I assume the high-beams flooding my car interior are coming from a dance party in the back seat, or something. The cure is almost worse than the disease, but that's the price of adjusting to the deranged.
I think Miami's story has a happy ending. Eventually, increasingly busy storm cycles will blow down everything that will blow down and blow away everyone who will blow away. The remaining core will commit to the success of the city. Downtown will grow to sufficient urban density that a good public transportation system will become viable. The city's reliance on Art Basel/Miami Beach to elevate the scene, in a kind of art-world trickle-down economics, will eventually pay off; Miami's art world will be mentioned in the same breath as Los Angeles. Afterwards, but in the same breath. Craig Robins will open his grad school with the help of UM President Donna Shalala; the snub to the art department already at UM will sting the faculty into ceasing internecine warfare and building up the undergraduate program into greatness, or at least high functioning. The voters, confused as ever, will allow MAM into Bicentennial Park and Terence Riley will commence to make it into a top-ranking museum. The condo crash of '08 will stop the flight of interesting people from the county. Several more years of irritating performance by FPL after each ever-more-frequent hurricane will become a cross-party, government-wide political liability, and finally something will be done about the stability of the grid. I give it all, oh, twenty years.
By that time I will be creeping up on sixty instead of forty. I hope to have an art career I can feel proud of, a few books under my belt, and a website that contributes to the whole country in a way that I think it has contributed to Miami. If I stay, it won't happen. If I leave, now, it might.
As mentioned when I implemented the recent design changes at Artblog.net, I have big plans for the site. This move is part of them. I want to write about the art getting shown in New England and the Mid-Atlantic. If at all possible, I'd like to go even further afield. (Yo, Ahab!) I plan to fold Go See Art into an Artblog.net calendar section and make it multi-city. I have ideas for revenue opportunities that will help the site support itself without blocking content or participation or junking up the design. I feel like I'm just scratching the surface with the possibilities of Artblog.net publications. I want to introduce AJAX functions - how would you like the left-hand sidebar to update itself without your doing anything, or be able to open the comment form without reloading the page? (Mwuhaha.) But most importantly, I'd like to make the part of the site that you come here for even better. People with a taste (and the stomach) for the money and social angles of the art world are already covering those topics pretty well. I want to concentrate on the art, and to push the writing so that it holds up not just as good art writing, but as good writing, period. (I keep thinking: What would Fairfield Porter blog about?)
My new home has access to beautiful museums, fall colors, a long history, a little bit of a social network already in place, and great comic book stores. Every metropolis from Portland, Maine, to D.C. is a day trip by plane or car. I have already considered the possibility that the difficulties I experience down here come from my critical nature - that I will dislike my new home city just as much, and on top of it, I'll be cold, and have none of my old friends. If that comes to pass, I will comfort myself with two thoughts. One, what the hell, I tried. Two, I learned an important lesson from life in Miami: don't look in your rear view mirror.
Goodbye, Miami. At times, I will miss you terribly. Thank you for all you've done for me.