Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hoving Happened

Let's all pray for the repose of the soul of Thomas Hoving, the former head of the Metropolitan Museum of Art who died today. I knew of him mostly as John Lindsay's first Parks Commissioner (from 1965-66), a job he evidently thought was a little like being a grand-scale cruise director. His "Hoving Happenings" included a Gay Nineties-themed party, a "Central Park a Go-Go" dance, meteor-watching, and kite-flying -- all of which was quite a change from the reign of his predecessor Robert Moses, who "enforced rules against wearing bathing suits or even halter tops and shorts shorter than midthigh."

Yes, he was one of those upper-crust types who romanticized sixties counterculture, and yes, he worked for John Lindsay, which is if anything more lame. Still, I can't help but like a man who responded to a subordinate's critical memo by writing "Crap!" at the top. He shot from the hip, but he was always ready to admit when one of his off-the-cuff statements was, upon reflection, "monumentally stupid" — sin boldly, repent boldly! As Michael Gross puts it in his obituary, "Even his enemies can agree that Hoving was never, ever boring." God rest his soul.

UPDATE: The NYT obituary is up.

No comments:

Post a Comment