Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Every Artist Needs a Tragedy

This image was e-mailed to me this morning by a dear old pal with the instructions to "enjoy the last few weeks of summer." I haven't yet heard the album, bc it's a bitch to find, but I think it's the most perfect piece of cover art I've ever seen.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Off the Wall

When stepping outside felt like entering a sauna last weekend, we took another trip to the South Bronx for a 30th birthday party. There’s nothing like cramming into a house party with no A/C and about 50 other people on one of the most humid nights of the year. At one point, it was so hot that we stood by the open fridge, using frozen peas as a cold compress. Maybe I’m looking forward to 30 now, since it seems like an excuse to have a banging party with drag queens and belly dancers. At one point, I found myself dancing with a crowd of Dominicans, Indians, and whatever else, which is definitely more diverse than another Saturday night on the Lower East Side. Gotta love the melting pot, especially when it's boiling.

Friday, August 24, 2007

All Day and All of the Night

Last night’s performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in Central Park, was thankfully uninterrupted by rain. Again, the set was well utilized; sharing center stage with the actors was a giant tree laying way for the faeries’ athletic acrobats and Titania’s dotage. Of course, Bottom and his fellow craftsmen steal the show (within the show, I guess), leading the play into a more whimsical element, although I could’ve done without the musical number at the end. Following the show, we filed into the quad of Belvedere Castle for the after party. There was food, dancing, Raul Julia’s son, Raul Julia Jr., who is incredibly charming, and Jeff Goldblum, who is freakishly tall but approachable (although we didn’t have much to say to each other).

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Rain in Numbers

Beach House play hazy, organ-saturated pop that evokes more autumnal environs than the summer coastal outing their name implies. Papercuts specialize in layered, lo-fi narratives, while Tiny Vipers feature perfectly placed guitar echoes and the dramatically lilting vocals of Jesy Fortino, who sounds like Joanna Newsom covering Björk.
- TS

Monday, August 20, 2007

Dance This Mess Around

A great portion of last weekend was spent looking up at the sky. With weather permitting, it began with a trip back to PS1 at dusk to check out the James Turrell piece, Meeting. Walking into a white, rectangular room, we were greeted with an open roof and a row of benches, the ceiling working as a frame for the sky’s canvas. So we sat down and watched the sky change colors for about twenty minutes, which seemed like twenty hours, while listening to the erratic thumping of the DJ below us. The exhibit is pretty spectacular, but I probably would’ve liked it more under calmer circumstances.

Then there was a vat of mussels in SoHo, a dark, crowded dance floor on the LES, a NY Pickabagel, delicious, the Summer of Love psychedelic exhibit at the Whitney, also spectacular in its own way, and a Tibetan meal.

All I wanted to do on Sunday night was go to the top of the Empire State Building because I hadn’t made that trek yet, even though I look at it every day from my fire escape. As luck would have it, the best way to bypass the lines for that tourist trap is to go at 9pm on a Sunday evening, when it’s raining. At every stop in that building, a different attendant would warn us, “Zero visibility. There is zero visibility tonight; you will not be able to see anything. Zero visibility.”

But what did I care? After hearing “Zero visibility” over thirty times, I became stubborn. There was no way we weren’t going to the top of that building. I never get to summit an 86-floor elevation and, well, maybe I like clouds. I appreciate a good vapor, who doesn’t? When we finally reached the top, we saw what I would estimate to be a ten visibility, at least. Maybe 8.5. And it was awesome, with only a handful of people up there, and a noir view of the city, we could see all the major buildings. What the hell else can you see on a 100 visibility night in New York anyway?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Human Highway

Lately, my esteemed colleague Andy and I have been devoting every Thursday to an entire band's discography. This involves listening to only one band from first thing in the morning until we are ready to leave for the day. Last week, we covered Can, which I was really into at first. But by hour five, I almost went out of my mind. Yesterday, we tackled Neil Young: After the Gold Rush, Comes a Time, Everybody Knows, Freedom, Live at Massey, On the Beach, Rust Never Sleep, Tonight’s the Night. Unlike an entire day of Can, listening to nine hours of Neil Young is pretty sweet and highly suggested.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Permanent Smile


The other day, I went to Philly to see my great aunt on the eve of her 92nd birthday. 92 years old, I can’t even imagine what that’s like. Everything seems to be okay with Aunt Bea and her wit is still sharper than most people I know. Her health, too, is in good form, so at least I have solid genes backing up my cause.

Actually, the only ailment she really suffers from is chronic complaint. She’s very good at complaining and has taken years, decades even, to master the form. Her timing is impeccable, her acuity spot-on. For instance, she took me out to eat in the diner in her building, after insisting that the place is not fit for humans. When the waitress asked for my order, I said I would like an omelet.

“Why would you get an omelet here,” my Aunt Bea chimed in, “do you want to eat a brick for breakfast? They don’t cook omelets here like your grandmothers; they’re not light and fluffy. We know how to cook in my family, but they don’t know how to cook here.”

Yet I insisted, partly because when you’re in the mood for an omelet, nothing else will do, but mostly because I felt bad for the waitress, who tried to defend the restaurant’s omelets against my great aunt’s tirade.

When my omelet arrived, Aunt Bea admitted that it didn’t look so bad. I informed her that it’s because I ordered it with egg whites.

“What are you messing around with egg whites for? You’re 25 years old, you don’t even know what cholesterol is, and I know a million girls who’d kill for your figure. People ask me how I got to be 92 years old and I tell them, it’s because I eat whatever the hell I want!”

So there you have it: if you want to live to be 92 years old, just eat whatever the hell you want.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Outside Chance

Rocket Science, directed & written by Jeffrey Blitz, is the best little indie movie I’ve seen in a long while. Everything about this film, centered on a stuttering high school debate candidate, is ideal in my opinion: the plot, the acting (especially the acting), the dialogue, score, and pacing. Even the ending, which could’ve been really sappy, is the perfect final touch. Yep, it’s kinda like if Wes Anderson had directed Napoleon Dynamite. Go see it! Now.

Monday, August 13, 2007



The highlight of last weekend was a trip out to P.S.1 in Queens, whatta cool space. The galleries, presented by MoMA, feature photo collages, skeletal installations, neon abstractions, and narrative linocuts. We missed the James Turrell exhibit, unfortunately, because it’s only open for a short time right at sunset. And the music was okay, but the dancing was even better, with hundreds and hundreds of people crowded into a single courtyard.

At one point, I felt a shower of water and looked up, expecting rain. But the sky was cloudless and the water was only falling on a select group of people. Turns out that we were standing directly under a collection of water buckets and, while my first inclination was to move to another location, I decided that the mini showers were refreshing. So we stayed in that spot. It was quite a natural thing to do, although it seems a little strange now in the telling.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Mango Pickle Down the River

Torrential downpour causes severe train delays in the morning and, even though I talked to her on my walk to work, I still receive a slightly frantic voicemail from my mother in the afternoon. She knows I was screening her call and so she sends an e-mail peppered with capital letters, “BE CAREFUL.”
In my Internet frenzy, I ignore the e-mail because even when a bridge collapses in Minneapolis, I still receive the same instructions. National news makes people nervous.

I suspected this last Tuesday when we stood on the banks of the Hudson (coast of the West Village) at night and my brain was passively parading in front of me, kind of like if the New Jersey party boat gliding past us were in fact a Mississippi riverboat circa Mark Twain.

On an unrelated note, I think it’s important to my sanity to keep close two friends whose work is completely unrelated to mine. Meeting up with a social worker and a law student at least once a weeks helps me set things in perspective, feel more grounded at least. No matter what, the social worker’s day is ten times heavier than mine could ever be, and it's just fun to argue with the law student.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Take the 'A' Train

Ever since I moved here, about two years ago, all I’ve wanted to do is take a tap dancing class. I hadn’t participated in one since the 8th grade and what better place to pick up this hobby again than New York? So I motivated my old partner, Ms. Howell, and we found a studio that allows you to drop by for an hour and a half class at only $14. But would you believe that there is not a single place in this entire goddamn city that rents tap shoes?

So we showed up to the studio on West 38th at 11:30 on Saturday morning in the best substitute we could find: high heels. When she noticed, the teacher gave us a good-luck-you’ll-need-it look. I didn’t care, though, since the studio was exactly what I had in mind for my New York tap dancing session: it’s open and airy, with hard wood floors, one wall of mirrors, and another wall of windows looking out onto the city. Also, when you consider the location of the studio, and use a slight stretch of imagination, we were practically dancing on Broadway.

Of course, once we started, I realized that I just don’t have it anymore, the tap dancing skills. I was a little rusty, I must admit, not that this stopped me from enjoying the class. After each routine, the teacher, an animated woman with melting makeup, would offer advice, critiques, and high fives. Ms. Howell and I both received a number of high fives, and the teacher even told me that I have “spirit.”

But tap dancing is really hard, dear blahg, and it’s not enough just to keep up. You have to have grace and timing, since it’s all about anticipating the perfect place to shift your weight. Mostly, though, it’s about moves, and I have no moves. While the teacher was happy to have us, I got the feeling the rest of the class was a little resentful towards our dropping in on a whim.

I had hoped for a class full of washed up Broadway starlets. Instead, it was an odd mix of people who took the class a little too seriously for my taste. You will never see these people again, I told myself as Ms. Howell and I flap ball-changed across the floor in a pair exercise, the entire class watching our fumbled steps and listening to our hollow taps.

Now that was a little awkward. But I still have the digs and cramp rolls down and no matter how sloppy your feet look, as long as you keep the arms going, with a smile plastered to the face, you’re fine. Right in the thick of the shuffle exercises, with twenty minutes left, I glanced over at Ms. Howell, in heels at least two inches higher than mine, and we exchanged a look of pure pain. I could no longer feel my feet but at least I could check this off on my list of things to do.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Into the Groove

I don't know why I'd never been to Monkey Town, a cool little space in Williamsburg that's so far over, it's practically by the water. When you walk past the first half of the restaurant, through a starkly lit hallway, you enter a giant room lined with low white couches and projection screens, one for each of the four walls. But I finally went last night when my coworker, Zolton Zavos (whatta name, he's Australian) was hosting a movie party.

The movie of choice was Desperately Seeking Susan, starring none other than Madonna, along with Rosanna Arquette and Aidan Quinn, in a madcap set of coincidences and mistaken identity. The greatest thing about the movie, of course, is Madonna. Here's Madonna when she was still Madonna, before she glazed the cover of Redbook, and actually had star persona. Her grifter character steals every scene, always punctuated by her distinctive style and smug smile.

Clothing, too, plays a large role in this one. As Roberta (Arquette), the New Jersey housewife, covets the romantic life of Susan (Madonna), setting the plot into motion by coveting her denim, pyramid-bejewelled jacket, each scene centers around a different commodity or costume signifier. Finally, when the duo returns a priceless pair of Egyptian earrings, which Susan stole at the beginning of the film, they become heroes.

But you can't forget the city. Desperately Seeking Susan takes place in a pre-Giuliani New York, where Aidan Quinn works as a projectionist, yet manages to live in giant Chinatown loft; the parties in Chelsea still had edge, and the Lower East Side was actually dangerous. It scared the crap out of me when I was little, but now I appreciate it as a strange, welcoming fossil from 1985. And, I tell you, it's held up through the years.