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I look down on a street of Bradford pear trees and the color of the leaves, scarlet and yellow, is uplifting. The Bradford pear, an Asian species, was thought to be the answer for New York City's streets as it has beautiful flowers in the spring and great foliage in the fall. Alas, the manner in which new branches form creates weak crotches, so weak that a good wind or snow storm can split off mature branches quite easily.

Indeed, the snow storm of Oct. 29 proved just how much damage a mature Bradford limb can do to a parked car as the damage on my street was substantial. When I talk about English furniture that doesn't have much quality, I suspect that it is a difficult concept to understand. English furniture, after all, has a reputation for being well made. Quality is not just the craftsmanship of cutting and glueing. Anyone can cut a dovetail or make a mortise and tenon.

The skill lies in understanding how timber expands and contracts and, first of all using properly dried timber and secondly, using timber so that the stresses are minimized. Further, a great craftsman uses timbers so that they are never dull. A chest, for example, might have its drawers veneered so that the crotch mahoganies engage and move the eye. Finally, proportion is hugely important, but today, we seem more focused on function than anything else. John Dos Passos' trilogy, "U.S.A.", has snap shots of lives that, for some reason or other,never quite get on track.

Virtually every character has some kind of urge to make something of themselves, to go somewhere and to be someone, and they all seem to be waylaid by moment. It is frustrating to see the existentialism play out as the dreams get swept aside and they fall into the predicament of predictability. The promise of something is tantalizing, but the reality of the moment is a far more powerful force than a dream. Like the Bradford pear or even the best made piece of English furniture, existentialism is inescapable after a certain point. And if there are flaws, you are bound to accept them.