March 20, 2013

Life at Stanford

 There's never enough time to do everything, so I've stopped trying or even making a list.  What comes forward is how it goes.  Much easier, more relaxed and it gives the feeling that I'm living here and not just being a tourist.  Some things, of course were planned.  Seeing various people and a few trips to the museum, walks with some folks across campus.  These were quiet treasures.

I did visit Mr. Richard Diebenkorn in the Cantor Museum and spent quiet time around his two representative paintings.  "Ocean Park #94" on the left and "The Window" on the right.  Could spend hours looking at them particularly Ocean Park which has an enormous vocabulary when you get up very close and see the brush strokes, the layering, the scratches, the casualness of the lines purposely done so as not to seem perfect in a geometric painting.  The signage said that he was influenced in this particular Ocean Park painting by Matisse's "View of Notre Dame."  Other visitors to Diebenkorn's studio noticed that there were large windows with a transom window at the top and suggested he was simply painting his surroundings.  He seems to have laughed and said "well, sure, if you think so."

 It's spring break this week and the campus has quieted down except for groups of families walking around campus obviously visiting their kids.  There's always tourists photographing and carrying bags of souvenirs they've gotten in the bookstore which is loaded with clothing stamped with the Stanford emblem and which takes up far more space than the books.

I went up in the Tower with a friend the other day, and from there you can see all of the Bay Area, from the San Francisco skyline, to the UC Berkeley Campanile, to San Jose and all the surrounding hills including Mt. Diablo.  I posited that this was built to address a challenge to the Berkeley campus, but that's just me, it isn't truly a fact.  The Stanford campus was begun because Leland Stanford couldn't get into Berkeley so he started his own university.  If you are going to do that, you might as well make it as visible as you can and thumb your nose in that northerly direction.

Tonight is my last night and I'll leave in the morning to return to Berkeley.  I'm having dinner with the Schireson's who live on campus in faculty housing.  What is wonderful here at Stanford is the sense of community among the people who live on campus.  Many have lived here for 35 or more years and chat on the street, get together socially, continue a rich cultural life.  Even after retirement, they remain in their homes till they die, unless they choose to sell.  Where could anyone go to have a more excellent lifestyle and climate?  Yes, some people have all the luck, and they've worked hard to earn it.