Saturday, December 29, 2007

New England New Year

Very quick, as I'm in the midst of one of those whirlwind trips through Massachusetts. I'm in Waltham now with Sue and Steve, fighting off a cold and getting ready to go visit Beckett, then into Boston/Cambridge for some grub, the Patriots game (S & S are fans, and it's the big final game of what has potential to be the first undefeated season since '72) and a show by Buffalo Tom at TT the Bear's Place. All of which should be fantastic.

Tomorrow I get to see Seattle Amy, whom I almost never get to see. And either tomorrow or Monday it's off to Williamstown for a New Year's party courtesy Sue and Kevin (all these Sues - it gets confusing, I know).

Happy New Year's Weekend, everybody.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

kind of blue

Sometimes, Miles, John, Cannonball, Wynton and Paul are the only ones who can say anything worth listening to.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

uptown/downtown

The argument over whether uptown or downtown yields better art/entertainment is essentially a pretty boring one: uptown art is reputedly commercial, and crassly so, whereas downtown art is presumed to be edgy and authentic. Or: uptown art is professional, highly skilled and attentive to its audience while the downtown variety is shabby, amateurish and self-absorbed.

As it happens, the cliches are true sometimes, but not all the time (shocking!), and that both good and bad stuff happens in both areas, uptown and downtown having as much to do with attitude as geography, especially since much of what used to be 'downtown' Manhattan has all-but-utterly commercialized and much of the exciting new work is being done in the outer boroughs and (gasp!) New Jersey. Yes, there has always been a bunch of crap happening on Broadway, trite, thoughtless pablum aimed at the lowest imaginable common denominator; but there are also fantastic productions put on by true artists, brilliant playwrights and some of the best acting in the English speaking world. And the downtown scene is full of posers who create intentionally oblique nonsense and couldn't put two coherent thoughts together on a bet; but it also provides some of the most adventurous, exciting and vital work I've ever seen. My personal pet peeves from working in the worlds of conventional and experimental theater extend to the stick-up-the-ass cowardice of some of the decision-makers in the more commercial environments, and the crazy disorganization and overwhelming disregard for people's time in the fringy stuff (ok, ok - maybe an inflated sense of respect for scheduling does smack of the patriarchal, but that whole thing about never starting rehearsal on time gets old. Really.)

This all returns us to the shows I started writing about last week. Rock 'n' Roll was one more example of Tom Stoppard bringing it all back home with a team of top-notch artists at the top of their game. The central trio of Rufus Sewell, Brian Cox and Sinead Cusack are impressive in a way you just don't get to see very often. Damn Brits.

And the play itself is one of those shows that you walk away from smarter than when you walked in that night. Don't know much about the history of Communism in Czechoslovakia? You will. Unclear about the progression of British intellectual thought on the subject of the Party before and after the '68 invasion? Serving of mental Windex, live on stage. Wait a minute, wait a minute: you think those subjects might be boring? The use of rock and pop music to tie the scenes to the culture of the time and place isn't sugar to help it go down; it's a dramatic framework that makes an essential connection between popular expression and political environment. The fact that it's an irresistible musical element is a pretty bitchen bonus though.

Couple quick questions: might the show have benefited from some more truly underground or radical music? Not to take anything away from the Stones, Dylan or Pink Floyd, but I'm guessing there were more radical/less 'classic rock' musical forces at play in Prague, as there surely were in London. The Velvet Underground is a little closer to a counter-cultural phenomenon, and The Plastic People of the Universe certainly fit the bill. Maybe it wouldn't have been worth the time to introduce bands that would have required explanation, but I wonder if this uptown play could have used some more downtown sounds to illustrate its points. And where was the Zappa?! Not only was he important to the London scene, and absolutely integral to the Czech scene, his music spurred the very name of The Plastic People of the Universe, and, with the Velvets, was their most important influence both musically and theatrically. He was barely mentioned in the show, and not one note of his music was used. Why not?

And the mention of that musical artist who below-the-belted his way to a permanent spot in the fringe pantheon brings me back to The Nutcracker: Rated R. What a fun show! Not polished to a shiny gleam, the rough edges were part of the point, kinda like the sharp edge of a broken bottle. The fantasy of a bourgeois girl in this version of the Tchaikovsky ballet takes a turn through pre-Giuliani (and mostly pre-Dinkins) New York of the 80s (or at least someone's version of the 80s). Some creative variations on the music were employed, and the dancing had raw energy that got through to the packed audience.

There was a nasty line in the cold for the box office, in spite of our having bought tix in advance online, that I'd have liked to avoid (ah, the downside of downtown). But I digress. The show was worth the wait, however aggravating. Good primal energy in service of good arty entertainment. The sexuality could have gone farther without crossing any dangerous line (and this show sort of tempts one to cross dangerous lines - at the very least, it advertises itself as 'R-rated' ) but they delved into different dance forms and style choices with exuberant abandon, and made living contact with the audience that, well, that you don't always get.
Not so sure about the pat anti-drug message-y kind of resolution. (Did you know that coke can give you a sense of euphoria and energy to party all night? But that then it might kill you? I know, so did everyone else.) But they had to end it one way or another, and those after-school specials were part of the 80s too. There were some sound problems early on in the performance I saw, which caused the company to stop for repairs and start over, but I actually think the way they handled it was pretty perfect, and if anything juiced the dancers up to give a little extra on this cold and rainy matinee day. Way to have a show ready to weather any storm. Good luck bringing it back next year!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Formatting

For some reason the photo at the header of my blog is now cut off in a very odd way. Anyone know why? I've played with the layout, and haven't been able to find the way to restore it.

Harrumph!

Monday, December 17, 2007

English anyone?

Well, this is the kind of thing I could do a lot more than I do, but it seems borderline unkind...
Today however, the dayjob is sufficiently annoying and crazed, that I will indulge the smug snotty side of myself and share with you a comment included in an email having to do with sales at a particular retail outlet:

They stores we extremely!

This was written by a native English speaker with (I think) a college degree. Even in the world of texting and e-speak, I really can't figure what she is trying to say.

Tee hee!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Weekend Update

After the highs of last week's concerts (which included the two I've already written about, plus a choir concert last Sunday and another YLT show on Monday) came some various lows, but also some more sustained highs with Tom Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll, Aaron Sorkin's The Farnsworth Invention, and Angela Harriel's The Nutcracker: Rated R. Three very different pieces of performance, two On Broadway, one waaaaay Off, each with its pros and cons, but each also with an important spark of life. I'll try to put in more specific thoughts about these sometime soon; that will depend on, well... a bunch of things.

Besides that, I got to go to a really rad party in Dumbo, hosted by a designer I know and a couple people (another designer and an architect, I think) who share a studio with him. It was a good group of people, including some famous and semi-famous personalities, got to meet some interesting folks and I got to see a friend I don't get to see often enough, so that was bitchen. And I got to some other friends' Christmas Carol in Manhattan too. Oh - and some really good Ethiopian food at a place in Hell's Kitchen called Meskerem. Yum!

'Tis most definitely the season.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

President Yo La Tengo

Ok, without wanting to go too deep into nose-rubbing territory, I'd like to rewrite for your amusement a missive I sent some friends up in Boston, regarding one of the best shows I've seen in a long time, courtesy of Hoboken's own...

First of all, let me just say that when I offer you guys tickets to a yo show in the 'boken, don't say no. Especially if it's one of the Hanukkah shows! Unless your own band is booked to play the Garden, you are performing on Broadway, or you're getting married that night, change what plans you have and get your ass over to Jersey. It is so worth it I can barely put it into words...

The opening band on Saturday, Dew Claw, was maybe a little on the 'eh' side, but it was still pretty neat that they featured the original YLT bass player, and also the guy who currently does many of the graphics for Tengo's t-shirts and such. And their own shirts-for-sale were designed by that guy's 9-year old daughter. Which is nice. Plus, they wore flannel pyjamas on stage.

Sarah Vowell was the evening's comedy act, and she was superfun indeed; I have to say, though, she was upstaged by Amy Poehler, who came on in the guise of Ira's Aunt Judith to tell us all about the Kabbalah in the light of a broken Menorah.

The set was amazing. Started in mellow, moody mode. I mean, very very good, just chill. Until... they did 'Mr. Tough', which not only completely rocked, but kick-started the rest of the set, which from then on was a non-stop mess-you-up powerhouse. Included a completely incendiary 'Big Day Coming,' (the raucus 'reprise' vesion, of course) and an orgasmic 'Story of Yo La Tengo.'

And then for the encore, out came Alex Chilton. Yup. Among other songs, they did: Hey! Little Child, the Modern Lovers' Government Center, Velvet Underground's Femme Fatale. I am not even kidding.

This was the kind of show that reminds you why you like music.

And I haven't even mentioned last night's show yet... :-)
Hopefully I can get some photos of that gig from Sherin for the next entry. Whew. My ears are ringing in all the right ways.

Friday

Friday I saw a play on the East Side. It was very good; in many ways one of the best new plays I've seen in a while. Interesting ideas, well acted for the most part, well staged and lit, costumes were good, if a bit obvious. But I don't want to write much about it, because there were a couple bad holes that really weakened the whole thing in the last quarter, and I don't like talking shit about my peeps in the theater in a public forum if I can help it.

Afterwards, Beth and I walked down Fifth Avenue through Tourist Christmasland. We didn't do the windowgaze routine full out, but we did check out Bergdorf and Cartier and the star at the intersection of 57th. Gaudily spectacular, natch. And, of course, since we were there, we looked at the tree at Rockefeller (so purple this year!) and passed by the skating rink.

Finally we ended up at what may be my new regular bar on the West Side. I'm definitely not going to write about that, because I don't want it getting around. So many of the great down-to-earth bars are gone now (McHale's, Dave's, Collins) or changed irremediably (McCoy's, Film Center) - when you discover one, or a new one pops up, you have to preserve it.

So then, this entry would be me almost writing about what I did the other night. Oy.

Delusion of the Fury

Holy crap, so much has been going on since the last time I wrote here! Most of it really really good, nigh unto great.

On Thursday, I went with E-beth to see and hear Harry Partch's Delusion of the Fury. Extraordinary, and almost a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Partch wrote this in I think 1967, it was performed - once - in 1969, and had never been performed since. Until last week, when Dean Drummond's Newband ensemble joined forces with stage director John Jesurun, choreographer Dawn Akemi Saito and a solid group of performers to stage it at the Japan Society. Really fascinating stuff - a musical introduction followed by Act 1, which was drawn from/inspired by a Japanese Noh Drama; then a musical interlude, followed by Act 2, which came from an African comic story.

One of the main reasons that this piece is done so rarely (read - pretty much never) is that it depends on specific instruments of Partch's invention, like these here 'Cloud Chamber Bowls'.

Parch composed in microtones, which you can sort of think of as the 'notes between the notes.' These tend not to exist in Western music, and most Western instruments can't play them (at least not very well). This didn't slow down Harry Partch though - he just invented a bunch of totally rad and innovative instruments that look like they've been pulled from Dr. Seuss stories via a mad scientist's laboratory.

This little guy, for instance, depends on liquor bottles to make its music:


Specific liquor bottles, no less. It's called a Zymo-Xyl, and when Partch was playing around with it in the early stages, he discovered that each brand of whiskey, gin, vodka, etc. has its own specific tone (some of which fall into the microtone category) So ultimately, the specs called for certain empty booze bottles to go in each slot: Tanqueray here, Bacardi there, that kind of thing.

So you need these instruments to do this music, and as far as I know, each and every one is one-of-a-kind. And most of them are big, and i suspect rather fragile, so a bunch of traveling isn't apt to happen. Result: you get to see his music, when at all, in small doses at the Partch Institute in Montclair, New Jersey. The large-scale works, you don't get to see at all.

Except for last week!

I admit, when I was told about this show, I was suspicious, especially since it was a pretty expensive ticket. The whole "Yeah, this looks fun on paper, but am I going to get there and yawn through the whole thing? 'Cause I don't want to be spending my bucks on that for the sake of doing something 'arty' just because it's rare."

But E-Beth talked me into it, and let me tell you, people - I didn't yawn. It was by turns fascinating and exciting and moving and funny. Really really fun. Plus, you know, so far it happens one time in every two generations.

As I see it, this is one of the reasons we live in New York.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Return of Magic 8Pod

What do you foresee for the GRE for Sherin?

Happy Days - McCoy Tyner Trio. Well, gee Sherin, you can't
ask for much better than that. :-)

How about the Yo La Tengo show on Saturday?
Jack-a-Roe - Bob Dylan. Hmmm... this one's trickier. An old English folk balad, it sounds dark and moody, but it ends with triumph over great adversity. Good portent for a benefit concert, I'd say. And - the verse tacked onto the end of the story is amusinglyhopeful.
This couple they got married, so well they did agree
This couple they got married, so why not you and me
Oh, so why not you and me ?
Hehehe.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

"Debate"

Seems likely that we'll be having some more discussions of politics here from time to time as the '008 U.S. Presidential Election gets nearer.

For the moment, have a look at this viddy dramatizing the 'fairness' of the medium-early Democratic debates. It's more effective if you watch the whole thing (takes about 2 & 1/2 minutes)


Brings to mind George Orwell, no? "All animals are created equal. But some animals are more equal than others."

Yeah, there's more to come on the issue of the 'liberal media' too...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Let it Snow!

Woke up after a blissful sleep in (those are pretty rare these days) to find a snowy Sunday out my window. It's been an up-and-down weekend: Friday was dinner with a Pete, of whom I've seen precious little for too long, followed by drinks with him and Rashmi, followed by the Jazz and Jewels gig benefitting Planned Parenthood with bunches of people - way to go Sherin, Jacqueline, Beth and Michelle!! - followed by more drinks at one of my new favorite bars in the Village. It was one of those evenings that devolved from French Wine to Irish Whiskey to Belgian Beer to a long walk home, thankfully impervious to the cold. So, yeah, yesterday I was moving predictably slowly, but did manage to motivate for dinner with some theater friends I also hadn't seen for a long while, and then pulled off that unlikeliest of feats: the last minute movie date with friends. On a Saturday? In New York?? Unheard of! But there it was - Susan and Daniel live around the corner from where I was, and they didn't have firm plans, so we went to see Michael Clayton. Really good film, guys - catch it before it leaves the theaters if you can. Then went home and watched the second half of Dig! which is the movie about the parallel stories of the bands The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols. If you have any interest in them, or in recent indie rock at all, you'll want to check that out too. Those crazy rock-n-rollers! Got to bed late-ish, but not unreasonably so, and woke up to the Winter Wonderland.

So this morning I went downtown in the season's first proper snowfall to get bagels and other foodstuffs, and have been just hanging around my place with the Sunday New York Times, having coffee and noshing, listening to excellent holiday music and chatting with people on the phone. No laundry will be getting done by me this weekend (unless I blow off that dinner in the East Village, but who wants to be rude?) but it's been nice just having some semi-snowbound solitude. Plus it was a reminder that I should get the actual, physical Sunday Times more often; been too slack on that for too long. Otherwise, I would have missed the article about the Hello Kitty Vibrator. I'm sorry, I mean "shoulder massager." Yeah, it's there in the online version, but no way would I have seen it. And that would have just been a shame. Oh, my!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Who's there?

Ira Kaplan is guest hosting a late night show on WFMU, and I'm tapping away at the laptop while listening to his sonic choices (the current offering sound like some kind of mix between Serge Gainsbourg and the space-age bachelor pad offerings of Esquivel. One could do worse at 11 on a Tuesday night.

For the last few days I've been coiling up to react to I'm Not There, the Bob Dylan movie Todd Haynes made with 6 actors playing Dylan in various incarnations at varying eras. A fun house mirrorview of a man who won't keep still. Saw it on Saturday night, still steeped in the remnants of Thanksgiving.

I'm not saying it was perfect (just as I'm not saying Dylan is, was, or ever shall be perfect), but I am saying it's worth watching. In fact, I'll probably go back and see it again after I let it settle in for a few more days.





Darkness at the break of noon
Shadows even the silver spoon
The handmade blade, the child's balloon
Eclipses both the sun and moon
To understand you know too soon
There is no sense in trying.


Different actors cover different facets of the Dylan diamond. No impersonation required, though Cate Blanchett does a pretty much note-perfect reading of his Bringing it All Back Home/Don't Look Back persona. Richard Gere comes closest to today's Singing Cowboy - Billy the Kid camping out in Riddle, Missouri, having faked his own execution.

His clothes are dirty, but his hands are clean

One of those films that may stick with you for a while, ride with you on the subway, go with you through your day.



It's funny to me how often people just don't get it, with all kinds of things, Dylan being one of the most obvious. I mean, yeah, he has TONS of fans, with nigh-religious devotion, and many music critics likewise treat his body of work like some kind of Holy Grail. But his detractors can be just as fervent - usually starting with some kind of resistance to his voice, then moving on to attack the cultishness of his followers.




Reminds me of a conversation I had with a Croatian co-worker of mine a few years back: this guy was and is super smart, but just did not get Dylan, especially the vocal stylings (and I gotta tell you, his Croatian accented Dylan immitation was pretty hilarious. "Mneeyeh, mnyeeaahh!") This was a dayjob co-worker, but he knew me (and, I think it's fair to say, admired me) as an actor and vocal artist, and when I put in a strong defense of Dylan's powerful vocal interpretation and blindingly original styling, he just couldn't wrap his mind around it.

"So, what are you telling me?" (you've got to try to hear a piercing Eastern European accent and attitude in this questioning. Think of an apoplectic James Bond villain.) "You are telling me that this whiny, wheezing insect has a good voice?!"

"I didn't say he has a good voice."

"Oh, you didn't?"

"No I didn't"

"You didn't say he has a good voice?"

"No, I didn't say he has a good voice. I said he has a great voice."


At this point the veins started bulging out of his neck and forehead, and a poor innocent fellow worker rolled her eyes and stood clear as he proceeded to explicate the ways he wanted to rip my artistic intestines out and knit himself a noose out of them.

It was pretty fun.


The cracked bells and washed-out horns
Blow into my face with scorn,
But it's not that way, I wasn't born to lose you.



It's not a frivolous distinction. Dylan's voice is peerlessly powerful, while not having anything to do with the smoothness and shine of Great Vocalists like Sinatra or Cole or Caruso. And the opera notion makes me think of Maria Callas, whom many would call the Best Female Singer of the Century. Yet her voice is not really the kind of 'beautiful' that is usually associated with operatic sopranos. A Great Voice, not a good one.

As for the movie, the critics' responses have been predictibly fervent, pro and con, at least if the tiny bit of reading I've done is any indication. Once again, I'm staggered at how many people miss the point. I'm tempted to tear into one particular critic, but that's always a downward spiral and a half. Plus, I try (at least here) to sort of follow the Mother's Dictum "If you can't say anything nice about someone, don't say anything at all."

Yeah, I don't always succeed on that score.

The beauty parlor is filled with sailors
The circus is in town

To the people who wonder why a filmmaker would make a 'biopic' that doesn't try to pin down and explain its subject, I say that a biopic is not what Haynes was making. To those who ask why said subject doesn't clearly define his 'character' for your benefit, I suggest that to some artists there is little that is more boring than trying to explain oneself. Much more fun to tweak some expectations, stir things up, and create. Hey, it's almost 400 years later and people are still trying to figure out who Shakespeare was.

Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself.
I am large, I contain multitudes.

And, to the nameless clueless critic: that puke you've got on your chest? I think it's Aristotle's. You may want to clean that up.

It's alright, Ma, I'm only sighing.

And as with anything, you can't make people get it.

The film spurred at least one enthusiast to, um, back up some data for a friend:




Could write more on this subject, but I've subjected you to enough for now...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Giants

The NY football Giants, that is.

If you know me, you know that I don't have much affinity for football. In fact, it was a pretty swell epiphany for me the day I realized that one can be a heterosexual male in America and not care about football and everything will be just fine.

But I got to go to the Giants game against Minnesota yesterday, and though it was a truly horrible game (unless you are one of those giddy Viqueens fans), it was a really fun experience, made all the more so by the fact that I got to take the radiant and irresistible Crystal as my 'date.' I had invited her husband Brandon (great friend of mine and big time football fan) who said he couldn't dare accept, as it was a lifelong dream of Crystal's to go to a Giants game, and would I consider taking her instead?



Of course! Crystal was the first person I met when I was checking out my grad school, and she let me crash on her futon for the couple days I was there. Plus she's, you know, radiant and irresistible. :-)



So, here's the view from our seats:



Yes, I know end zone seating is considered subpar, but we were close! And it was a beautiful fall day.

Now if we could have done something about those three interceptions run back for touchdowns...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Planned Parenthood Party

This isn't the kind of thing I'd normally post here, but it should be a good event, from a very good friend and for a very good cause. If you're free and in New York next Friday, consider...

Body Politic '08: Jazz & Jewels

Spread the word! Please re-post!

Details:
Come experience 3 fabulous Jazz singers - Jacqueline Antaramian, Elizabeth Soychak, and Michele - while supporting the important political work of the Planned Parenthood NYC Action Fund. Jewelry by Jacqueline on sale all night! 21 and over.
Friday, November 30
9:30-11:00pm
The Duplex - 60 Christopher St, NY NY 10014
$20 cover (includes Action Fund membership), plus 2 drink minimum

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Bocce

You know bocce, right? The old Italian game where you toss a small round stone to one end of a court, then try to get larger stone balls as close to it as possible, while knocking your opponents' balls away? Well, it was an important part of T-day this year.

But we don't play that polite bocce, where you just toss the pallino from one end of a pleasant smooth sand area to the other. Ours is more of an extreme bocce...
Also known as all-terrain bocce, it involves using the whole beach - the smooth sand, the rocky parts, the shells and the driftwood, the lawn above, even - at one ill-advised point - the water. That's Kevin hurling a bocce ball in one or our 'long bocc' rounds.
And now I'm having some trouble with uploading images - more later...


Alright - more bocce madness.

Here we are prepping for bocce among the beach chair obstacles:

And this is us getting ready for Extreme Bocce Action (can't you tell?)


The characters in this boccerific image are, from left to right, Crispy, Kevin, Rudy and myself. That bottle in the sand is, um, probably caffeine-free diet coke.

Finally, we have a shot of Water Bocce. The pallino rolled down the slope of the shore and ended up right at the edge of the water. We hemmed and hawed and thought it might not be such a good idea to play that lie. But then we were like: they're rocks, right? They're not going anywhere...

So we played the round. Sure enough, the balls stayed in plain sight at water's edge. We had serious control issues trying to work the slanting sand, but this was All-Terrain Bocce, after all. And when all the stones were rolled, two were almost tied for closest to the jack:

That would be Pike, Kev, Chris and I closely inspecting the situation to determine the victor of the round. We paced it off, allowing for waves, then gathered the rocks and got ready for the next round. But as we did, Rudy said "Um, guys...? Do you have all the balls?"

Ummm... nope. While we were engrossed in the competition aspect of the game, Neptune claimed two of the Bocce balls for himself.

This was followed by about 15 minutes of us all wading up and down the shallows in a vain hope of finding those rocks in the ocean. Which was itself followed by another 10 or so minutes of the four of us just staring out at the surf, muted, scanning for glimpses of red-paint and wondering what we were going to tell Jen (who brought the bocce set in the first place). Gulp :-)

It didn't spoil the party. Fortunately, this was not an heirloom set from Jen's Italian Grandfather or anything. Her attitude was the best - "they couldn't have gone in a better way, or to a better place." And we adjusted the game for the remainder of the weekend.

But if anyone knows where I can find some good Bocce balls cheap, lemme know...

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Beach



This is the view of the beach on Edisto Island as seen from the downstairs porch at I'm guessing about midday. It was perhaps cooler than would have been truly ideal for swimming, sunning and such, but all in all it was kind of wonderful for November 8-11.

Here's a look up the beach (Northeasterly), including shots of more neighboring houses:



And here's one that cannot possibly do justice to the scene, but props to Rich for capturing it:

It's a dolphin! There were lots of them swimming up and down the beach every day. Ok, ok, it wasn't a constant thing or anything, but at least a couple people saw dolphins every day we were there. And one day, three or four of them swam very close to where we were hanging out. A few of us walked closer to the shore, and they swam back and forth a few times - which I took to be an invitation to go out and swim with them (yes, ok, I know - they probably weren't actually inviting anything, but i couldn't resist)

Not many people did much swimming at all that weekend, but I have been baptised in the ocean waters of Maine, and therefore have less fear of the cold. And although it's an exaggeration to say I swam 'with' the dolphins, I was in the water near them. But rather than swim up to me and take me for a ride on their backs, they, umm, kinda swam away. Still, it was pretty amazing!

And also amazing was that my friends resisted the temptation to bust my balls for scaring the dolphins away (again, they were probably just looking for food and not the least concerned with me or any of us), and instead totally cheered me on for going out there and taking the chance.

Which is one of the innumerable reasons why I love them.

The House



This is the house where T-day 007 happened, as seen from the beach. Felt pretty stylin', I must say.

Here's a shot of the kitchen, where so much of the magic happened:



Don't know how well you can see it, but notice the granite countertops and the tile; also worthy of appreciation are the combination of hanging fixtures and recessed lighting (anb what a ceiling! the detail work and superfine wood really blew us away)






Here's the downstairs patio:






From left to right, we have the darling Cleo, Rudy, Kevin and Pike. Would you say this is sun-dappled? I'd say it's sun-dappled.





We didn't take any shots from the street, I guess. Probably because we didn't spend any time there at all - we were pretty beachy, except for the trips to the shrimp shack and the Piggly Wiggly (which is not, as some Northerners think, a mere convenience store, but a full-out supermarket.


One last shot for now, from a bit farther away, with the peeps assembled in front:




One of the things I like about this shot is the candid nature (thanks to Rich for all of these, I think) Fairly certain that none of us are aware there's a guy down by the water snapping away.

And speaking of that - beach shots next time...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

To Do Lists

We've dealt with mail art here before - and, yes, Blogger and YouTube conspired to draw attention to this, but I think it's worth a view:

You are what you list...?
Oh, she has a blog too.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

T-day 007

Ok, I don't think I've really discussed T-day in this blog, except for the odd reference. It's a gathering that happens every year a couple weeks before Thanksgiving (although the specific timing has changed occasionally, that's a pretty reliable date). There is always a ton of music and revelry, and some truly magnificent communal cooking.

Permit me to anticipate some of your comments and questions.

- Wow - that sounds a lot like 'The Big Chill'

No, it's not really very much like that perfectly adequate movie, although there have been known to be some singing and dancing to go along with the cooking and cleaning. Certain key differences include the fact that T-Day involves:

  • a lack of overall angst
  • a lack of sexual tension and improbable hookups (umm... ok... there have been a few of those, but really, this party has happened every years for many years, that's bound to happen a little bit - how many were there in that movie that covered one weekend?)
  • a decided lack of breaking down and crying in the shower. As far as I know
  • and most importantly - we aren't getting together once, after years of not seeing each other, because one of us has DIED.

- How long has this been going on? Where does it happen?

It started back at my college, one or two years before I got there, and has happened every single year since. Since its humble origins in Boston (imagine a bunch of not-exactly-sober college students figuring out how to stuff and cook a turkey and prepare what trimmings they could manage in their ill-equipped kitchens), we have become a diaspora, and the location changes pretty much every year, though there have been repeat venues (Boston, Williamstown, Burlington, VT, Philmont, NY). As the years have passed, several of us have developed pretty good game in the kitchen, and our outings have become more ambitious and adventurous.

- What kinds of things do you do?

There is always some variety, but you can count on lots of:
  • food
  • drink
  • music
  • games of some sort in general
  • pinochle in particular (really!)
It has always taken place in the Northeast - until this year.

T-Day 007 happened in Edisto Island, South Carolina. Jen goes there with her family a lot and turned us on to the idea. Molly found us a house online that pretty much blew us all away. Some of us have pretty nice houses, but this was essentially a new, fancy, huge place right on the beach. Astounding.

I'll have to write more later, but for now - here's a pic of me just south of the border of North and South Carolinas:

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Stem Cell Rejection

Yesterday was what was generally considered a pretty insignificant election day. No national-level offices at stake, and few Governorships up for grabs.

New Jersey did have elections for some of its State and County offices, and a few referendum questions. To our shame, we rejected a proposal to fund important stem cell research. This was considered a slam dunk by most analysts, but a last-minute push by right wingers evidently was enough to block it.

It's such important work, and I think potentially a very good source of revenue as well. The Garden State tends to be on the ball with this kind of thing, but clearly some better strategy was necessary here. I'm sad and a little embarrassed.

And that's the first time anyone has ever been embarrassed of New Jersey.

Oh, wait...

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Cradle WILL Rock

And, in this case, i'm not talking about a Marc Blitzstein musical. Or a Tim Robbins movie about a Marc Blitzstein musical.

I am talking about - wait for it - VAN HALEN!!!




Monsters of 70s and 80s Rock, Kings of the Hair Bands, Undisputed Lords of Metal Pop (well, ok, there's plenty of dispute over who get to be Lords of Metal Pop, but it's really not an argument worth having) played Meadowlands this weekend, and thanks to the dayjob, i got to go. Took Shannon as my date, as I'd been to see her husband's show earlier in the day with Sherin and JP, and they needed the evening to themselves. Plus, duh, Shannon's just super fun to rock out with.

As i wrote to the T-Day crew: that's right folks, i was runnin' with the devil and oh baby baby i danced the night away while jamie was cryin' in panama. Now, i ain't talking 'bout love, but i was hot for teacher (oh, she was a pretty woman, after all). And i'll wait for the women and children first, but fair warning: when push comes to shove, somebody get me a doctor, 'cuz i might as well jump.


Now perhaps you noticed in that photo that the guy on the right seems a little younger than the others. How perceptive of you! That's because the orginal bass player, Michael Anthony, has been replaced on this particular tour by Eddie Van Halen's son, Wolfgang. Who is 16.



Pause just a moment to reflect on that. Perhaps in light of what you did when you were 16. Me, i got my driver's license and thought that was pretty bitchen.

Wolfgang did a good job (though i am a little bothered by the rumor that VH is using Michael's pre-recorded backing vocals while excluding him from the tour), and the band put on a great show, of its ilk. It's not really my preferred music in general, but you gotta give credit where it's due.



Mad props to Shannon for coming up with the notion that David Lee Roth is the Liberace of his generation. Probably wouldn't have occurred to me, but it's inescapable: the broad smile, the brightly-colored matador jackets (one after the other, each with its pattern of spangly sequins), the - i'm not making it up, folks - explosions of sparkling confetti. A walking, jumping, roundhouse-kicking personification of flamboyant showmanship.




Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Good Ol' You-Know-Who

Did anybody else see the Charles M. Schulz documentary on American Masters? It was pretty damned good - a thorough (well, for an hour-long tv show) look at the life, work, influences and background of the man who created Charlie Brown. It was intimate, without being totally invasive, and drew interesting parallels between the events in Schulz's life and his work.



Apparently, the new biography by David Michaelis goes considerably farther in this direction. I keep reading that it's 'controversial,' but I haven't been able to figure out too much about just what this controversy is supposed to be. That the guy who created one of the great portraits of American insecurity was, umm, a little insecure? That he drew from his personal relationships when creating characters and situations? That he took names from his art school colleagues? That he went to art school?

These things are controversial? Good Grief!

All Hail New England

This weekend I was up in Maine for a JP's production of Almost, Maine. What an amazing place!



The first day was very foggy/rainy, but still glorious - the mountains pressing color through the mist; sheep, llamas and alpacas grazing in muted fields. Then on Sunday it was a perfect fall day - cool, crisp, sunny, with explosions of color. LOVED IT! I have a deep connection to that landscape; really feel at home there.

Plus, the food! Here's what I wrote to someone in an email during one of the very few moments I was online up there:
This AM we went to an amazing restaurant/goodie shop built into a huge farmhouse, that has all kinds of wool and alpaca, as well as tons of awesome homemade everything-you-can-make-out-of-maple-and-berries. Plus whoopie pies!! I had a fantastic omelette with homemade sausage and biscuits, and some very mediocre coffee. Then we went to an orchard to pick up a half peck of honey crisp apples, and had an apple dumpling with ice cream. Yum! And then we went to the lobster pound, and now have four crustaceans waiting to become the business side of dinner. And chowder. This is the greatest day of my life!
Tee hee!

And as if that weren't enough, it's total Red Sox Nation up there. It was actually kind of hilarious going to the supermarket and seeing dozens of people wearing their Boston baseball gear.

And of course, we all know how that turned out. :-)

There will probably be more footage of my time there, but for now, here I am with my dinner-to-be:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Taking Self Defense to a New Level

Found this little tidbit in The Gothamist.


Right over in Brookhaven, Suffolk County. Evidently the woman behind the counter (all 4'5" of her) could tell that the guy's gun was fake, or at least suspected so enough that instead of opening the register as she told him she'd do, she went for the ol' axe.



Holy Moly!

Music Update, etc.

News on some music happening in my near future:

And so this is not totally a music blog, which is not what I set out to create, let me say:

- Bon Voyage a Carissa - have a great time in Chi Town and keep us all posted.

- Saw Eastern Promises last evening. Not bad! (though not great) Cronenberg gets in his 'eeew' factor while telling a good story. Many of the 'twists' tend to be visible well in advance, but the acting goes a long way to make up for that. Gotta love you some Viggo Mortensen. Armin Mueller Stahl = effectively creepy. And Naomi Watts? Yum.

- Stephen Colbert is running for president. Discuss. BTW - he's doing a book signing at Arms-r-Global tonight.

- Game One tonight, folks. Goooooood mojo to Boston.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Magic 8pod and the Groove of Commuting

This morning, in a whimsical mood and in light of a potential wrinkle in the plans for this weekend's trip to Maine, I asked the Magic 8Pod:

"What's up with this weekend's trip to Maine?"

Go to the Mirror - the Who

From 'Tommy,' this one is a proto-anthem that helped change the course of rock history. It's where the world first heard the words

Listening to you I get the music
Gazing at you I get the heat
Following you I climb the mountain
I get excitement at your feet

Right behind you I see the millions
On you I see the glory
From you I get opinions
From you I get the story

So we've got that going for us. Which is nice.

Then I just let the randomness ride, as I am wont to do. This day's mix didn't perceptibly continue to comment on the Maine trip, but it was an interesting trip into work. Less genre-hopping than my i-shuffling tends to be, it resulted in a very good groove:

Green Day - the Homecoming/Death of St. Jimmy, etc. extravamondo medley from 'American Idiot'. More anthem rock. Cool.

Portishead - Seven Months. Not as anthemic, but a very powerful song, which has the added significance of being the soundtrack for one of the more intense theatrical exercises of my life.

Dan Bern - Hooker. A long brilliant ramble from Bern's (most unjustifiably) overlooked 'Smartie Mine' record

Patti Smith Group - Distant Fingers. Back in anthem territory from the punk poet goddess (hoping to see her perform on Halloween, btw - cross your fingers)

PJ Harvey - Oh My Lover. Mmmmmmm...

Sade - I Will Be Your Friend. From 'Diamond Life," this was a nice way to wrap up the walk to work. Fitting, wouldn't you say?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Music is the best...

...which we've known all along, and which scarcely needs 'proving'.


Nonetheless, I came across a mountain of new evidence to that effect over the last few days.


On Thursday (that day I shut down for a while, but then revived) we did make it to the M.I.A. show at Terminal 5. I refer you to Sherin's Walkalong entry of 10/19 for a good reaction to the event.


Friday was one of the final performances of Till the Break of Dawn, which had its moments. It was part of the Hip Hop Theater Festival, and as such it perhaps led me to expect more music in general. I mean music in performance, not music being talked about. Still, the sound design was one of the show's singular strengths, and the music we did get worked very well.


Then on Saturday, with my friend Frank, who is always a phenomenal resource for music and musical knowledge, I saw Yo La Tengo at the Colony Cafe in Woodstock. Now, it's far from news that Yo La Tengo is one of the bands that has meant the most to me in the last several years, that they are among Hoboken's proudest achievements and that they have the ability to create some of the best music going. But this show outshone even their high standard. It was part of their "Freewheeling Yo La Tengo" tour-let, and it happened at the music capital of hippie nation (yes, yes, I know that the famous festival actually took place in Bethel, and so do the Woodstockians - don't crunch their buzz).

Now I hesitate to admit this, but not only had I not been to the Colony, I had never been to Woodstock before. It's a groovy little town, to be sure. And Frank and I had a great time talking to a local retiree and watching the Red Sox get a good jump on game 6 over dinner at a bar in town. But all that pales beside the glow of the Yo on this particular evening. The Colony is a tiny club/coffee house, and we had 'reserved' seats, which weren't reserved in the proper sense - reserved seats just meant that we got to grab a couple of the maybe 50 chairs that were unfolded on the floor in front of the stage. One of the sometimes annoying but usually charming things about going to events with Frank is that he always insists on being early; in this case that meant we were in the second row.




One of the most intimate and informal shows I've ever been to, it was an unbelievable treat with a band this good. Basically what they did was open with a couple songs from their 'new' album, I am not Afraid of You and I will Beat Your Ass, which is actually more than a year old, and one from ...and then nothing turned itself inside out, and then opened the floor for discussion. People asked questions, made requests and reveled in what they came up with. Their songs, cover songs, stories, jams, and they were standing about 10 feet away. They had super simple instrumentation (James on bass, Georgia's drum 'kit' had a snare, a tom and one cymbal, and Ira was playing a Gibson accoustic with a pickup gaff-taped over the hole in front) but they were still able to mix up the mellow accoustic sound (the sound was great!) with some really rockin' moments. Loved it!

Thank God for music.

And if you're wondering, both Ira and James' favorite Feelies song is 'Raised Eyebrows" :-)

Stay tuned for their Chanukkah shows at Maxwell's...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

ugh

Yesterevening over dinner, i was explaining (with a dash of brag) to a friend my "i'll sleep when i'm dead" approach to things. Then went to see 'scarcity' at the atlantic (good moments/bad moments), watched colbert and did some stuff at home on the photo project, and finally went to bed.

And this morning my body said "Um... no you don't. Sleep when you're dead, eh? I think you'll be going to sleep right NOW. Well, no, let's make you throw up for about ten minutes first."

Smallscale hubris, i suppose.

So that's what's happening today. I'm feeling a bit better; pacing myself, because i still want to see M.I.A. tonight.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

letter to patchouli terrible

This is a (slightly edited) letter i sent to a friend and fellow blogger. I invite one and all to come up with possible explanations for the phenomena described herein. (Or - what the hell? Go ahead and explain whatever phenomena you feel like explaining, feeling free to make shit up, natch.)

Cherie -

I have had many moments of confusion in this life. They can be disconcerting, but by and large i've gotten used to them. Which is for the best, i dare say. What use could there be in wallowing there in confusionland? None, say i!

And then, via google reader, i ran into two transfixing (as usual) and seemingly current blog entries from Patchouli Terrible. One was part 2 of a story of being intercepted on the subway by a french speaker after writing in french in votre journal (i know that that means 'your newspaper', but i don't know what the french word for 'journal' is). Perhaps it wasn't the end of the story; certainly it wasn't the beginning. And on closer inspection, it appears to have been written of january of '006. Hmmm. THEN there was an entry about a panhandler soliciting kicks to (his own) crotch for 20 bucks that seems not to have been written yet at all, but will be written on december 9 of this year! Tremendous!

Do you have an expanation (factual or not) for this warp of bloggy time?

Perhaps i will blog these musings and queries. I haven't decided yet (or maybe i decided last year)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

rocktober/soxtober

Things are going pretty full tilt these days. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Got back from a weekend in Williamstown less than an hour ago. Went there to visit with Sue & Kevin, and have Kevin take some photos to use as headshots. That means I'll be looking a bit self absorbed for the next couple weeks, poring over image after image of... myself. And quite possibly asking you to do the same.

Also went to see/hear Matt Munisteri and Brock Mumford at MoCA, performing the songs of Willard Robison. Excellent show: first rate musicians performing really good songs from the 20s and 30s, most of which were unfamiliar to me. Saw the end of the Sox game at the Mohawk afterwards. We're starting to call Eric Gagne, "Gag Me." He has to click in soon, or we'll have to arrange it so that he doesn't pitch in tight situations.

More shooting today, then tour of the open studios in North Adams - such good artists out there! Finally dinner at Mezze with Sue & Kevin. Mmmmmm...

On the drive home I saw something I have never seen before. It was pretty gnarly, so if you're squeamish, you may want to skip to the next paragraph. A deer had been hit by a car, and was lying in the middle of the road. Nasty and sad, but the big deal was this particular deer was being torn apart by a BEAR! Ok, it was dark; it might not have been a bear - but it was being eaten by something. Something way bigger than a raccoon, folks. I had to swerve out of the lane to avoid hitting them. If it wasn't a bear, I don't know what it was.

Now I'm watching game 3 in the NLCS: the Rockies are on fire. Holy moly, what momentum. They have to burn out soon.

Don't they??

Quick run-down of the upcoming week:

  • Tomorrow - meeting after work; hopefully will catch the Personal Space Theatrics benefit performance at the Duplex later in the evening
  • Tuesday - 'Spain' at the Lucille Lortel
  • Wednesday - currently open! We'll see what comes up
  • Thursday - M.I.A. at Terminal 5
  • Friday - drive to New Paltz to hang with Frank & Amanda & family
  • Saturday - birthday party in New Paltz, then catch Yo La Tengo with Frank in Woodstock
Yes, I will be engaged in a full work week as well. So I must to bed

Thursday, October 11, 2007

birthdayz - take one

Ok - the broad strokes of my folks' visit:

  • Wednesday - After a crazy day at work, picked them up at the airport, then took them out for Octoberfest dinner at the fantastic German restaurant that has been renovated since that fire a couple years ago. (and if you're keeping track of such things: Ettaler Klosterbrauerei makes a fine brew)
  • Thursday started with a walk to the best bagel place in town, then to the Path station
  • Took the train to the World Trade Center
  • Walked through St. Paul's Church, over to City Hall, up through Tribeca and over to Canal Street for shopping
  • Subway up to Columbus Circle, hung in the Park for a while
  • Walked down to Empanada Mama for lunch
  • Walked to MoMA, which museum we then walked through
  • Walked back to the Gershwin, where we waited on line for - and got! - the $25 front row lottery tickets for Wicked
  • Dinner at the Olympic diner
  • Saw the show (they loved it!)
Permit me to point out that this represents quite a bit of walking
  • Friday (my Dad's 60th Birthday) - went to the Malibu for Breakfast
  • Bus into town; subway up to Museum of Natural History
  • Walked through museum, including the planetarium, and Robert Redford's movie about 'cosmic collisions'
  • Walked into the Park; saw the Delacorte and the Great Lawn
  • Walked over to Fred's for dinner
  • Train down to theater district for shopping
  • Walked to BB King's for Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels
  • Saturday - slept in till 9 (they were tired)
  • Bus to town, walked to TKTS booth; got tix for Avenue Q
  • Breakfast/Lunch at Smith's - atypically terrible service
  • Back to the Golden for the show
  • Train down to Chelsea
  • Visited Dominic & family at the 'Seal Park'
  • Georgia got her dress drenched in the fountain :-) and Caleb fell on his face right in front of us :-(
  • Went back to Dom & Ilana's place; gave Georgia a bath; went up to the roof
  • Walked to the Riviera for playoff baseball, food, many friends and birthday partying
  • Walked across Bleecker to 'the party that wasn't', then up to the 'North Square' tavern, where the drinking got creative (dad had a double creme de menthe on the rocks, which I've never heard him order. I've never heard anyone order that.)
  • Train to bus to home
  • Sunday - drove them to the airport first thing
I think we did ok.

Monday, October 01, 2007

summer's over

We know this because it's October. One game playoff will determine if Colorado or San Diego go to the official postseason. The Mets blew it, impossibly. The D-backs have the best record in the National league without a standout star. Let the games begin again.

The Supreme Court goes back into relatively neutral session, or so mass media would have us think. No major decisions expected on abortion rights or gay marriage. But don't go to sleep just yet - we've got a big habeas corpus question on the agenda, and a death penalty case. And then, apropos the prison-industrial complex, a possible wedge issue having to do with sentencing guidelines for cocaine and crack (you've got to have 100 times as much coke to get the same 'recommended' sentence as that for crack - of course, this has nothing whatever to do with race).

Meanwhile, back to the summer, here's a photo for your amusement:



Yep, that's more evidence of the Fire Island debauchery. We're just about to leave the island in the rain (and you thought we were wearing garbage bags for style reasons!) at this point.

Now, I'm not saying you should ignore the sight of those dorks in the pathetic ponchos, but the foreground actually tells a nice mini-story: the colored pencils and magic markers with the journal, the leftover tennis balls, the bottles of wine (one left unopened for the next set of revelers, one partially enjoyed) and gin, the ferry and train schedules standing up next to the jar with pens and pencils. And you even get a sense of the cabin.

Plus there's, you know, the flimsy garbage bags (wastebasket size, at that) and ridiculous facial expressions. Hehehe.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I'm at about a...



Van Gogh shot himself in the stomach. In a cornfield in France.

Corn that was a color we now think of in terms of Van Gogh.

Then after he regained consciousness he walked miles back to the house where he was living with an art loving doctor. Enfeebled by depression and God knows how many other mental illnesses, probably a rare form of epilepsy, and possibly syphilis, he was still strong enough to make a walk that would have killed most men.

Strength learned from the coal miners he preached to in the Borinage.

Strength forged in the burning sun of Arles.

Strength that showed him the sun in sunflowers.

And the fire in the stars at night.

Strength that let him survive another couple days before dying in his brother's arms.

His brother who would die of a mysterious illness (and probably syphilis) almost exactly six months later.

He had a vision and genius that was as rare as it gets. He saw beauty where others saw only ugliness. He found love where others saw only sin. He painted in a passionate fury that he himself was barely able to harness.

Once he figured out that he was a painter, that is. He didn't even consider it until he was 28.

So my question for the moment is - where are you? On a scale of 1-10, where 10 is having sex with your gorgeous true love in a beautiful room with a view of Van Gogh's France on the night you won your Nobel Prize, and 1 is shooting yourself in the stomach, where are you right now?

Just wondering.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

worst ... blogger... ever!

This may be what my loyal readers (both of you) are calling me.

It's true, I've been inattentive to the needs of Love Minus Zero these days. Life happens and all. Explanations? Not too many persuasive ones, really. The dayjob has been busier than usual (yadda yadda yadda). The audition roller coaster has been really fast and steep the last few weeks - the very few of you who know the deal know why I don't write about that stuff here (or even talk about it except with people on the inside. I mean, people in the biz, not those pesky voices in my head.) My personal life has been, you know, personal.

One big thing on the horizon is that my parents are visiting. Some of you will have received this, but for the amusement of those of you who haven't, here's a semi-mass email I sent out to some of my friends and colleagues in Nuevo York:

Hope all are doing well and enjoying this beautiful slice of time between summer and fall!

Ok, this is one of the weirder appeals you'll receive from me...

My parents are visiting new york next month.

"What?!" you say, "mick's parents are actually going to be in new york?"

It's true. For the second time in the many years i've lived here, mom and dad are facing down their fears of the big city and staying with me for a long weekend, october 4-7. And a big weekend it is: my dad turns 60 on october 5; and as if that weren't enough, the folks will celebrate their 40th anniversary on the 21st. Exciting, huh?

SO - we want to do some special stuff. And they get to decide what that means.

One thing it means is playoff baseball. This excites me muchly, but alas, my entry in the mets lottery was not selected for the divisional series. (Don't despair, lottery advocates - i'm still potentially eligible for the league championship and world serieses, but that doesn't help with the birthday/anniversary visit effort.) Stub hub and other legalized scalpers do offer these tix, which is probably what i'll end up doing, but i wanted to see if any of you out there have access to corpo-tix or anything like that. I'm not looking for a freebie or a discount, though i will admit that i'd like to avoid scalpers.

I know, i know, it's a long shot.

Special fun new york thing number two is broadway's Wicked.

"But mick," you say, "why would they want to spend all that money to sit near the back of a 2,000-seat theater, to see a show that is touring all over the country, and will probably continue to tour for years?"

I don't know, people. They're my parents - leave me alone.

But then, while you're leaving me alone, can you check and see if the CFO of your company is friends with the nederlanders, or stephen schwartz is your cousin, or your boyfriend is the house manager or something like that. Again, not looking for freebies, but if i'm gonna spend $100+ a ticket, i would prefer to get good seats.

See - told you it was going to be a weird appeal.

And even if you have no contacts in the world of major league baseball or broadway, please contact me so that we can be in the same room at the same time sometime soon! There are beverages to be shared and conversations to be had...

oxox
cheers,
mick

To update this situation - a couple people came through on the Wicked tix. But they are silly expensive, and i think what we're going to do is try the $25 'lottery,' (you get a number, and if they pick it you can buy seats down front for $25) and if we win that, great, and if not they'll see the show on one of its innumerable tours.

Still on the hunt for Mets playoff tix (and at this point, the Mets are in a serious fight for a place in the playoffs in the first place). There's a side story there having to do with StubHub, but for now suffice it to say - AVOID STUBHUB! Shout it from the rooftops folks, they are evil, horrible people who should be professionally boycotted and socially shunned.

Ahem. I'm ok. I'll write down that story another day maybe.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Big Day in NYC...

...for obvious reasons.

Which was the header of an email I sent to a friend in Texas and part of that email is the foundation of today's entry. I'll try to resist the temptation to go off on ten different rants, but I will say that it's interesting and maybe not altogether bad that this particular September 11 is a little more contentious in New York than usual... people allowing themselves some healthy arguments, being respectful of each other and the Event without going overreverent.

Amy Goodman is fantastic. I wish she'd run for president, if only to get her perspective to more people. Exception to the Rulers, indeed.

The continuing Hookergate business is insane - Foley, Palfrey, Vitter, Craig: I can imagine what the Air America guys are doing with it! (Sort of have to imagine, as Air America is firewalled out where I work) Jon Stewart came back from vacation yesterday and did a good piece on Craig. The hypocrisy is endless...

And yet we come back to today. Here's what the New York Historical Society is offering. I hope all are well and happy, embracing life and memorializing in the ways you are drawn to.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Texas Justice

Once again, we get some disturbing news from the Lone Star State.

Carter Albrecht, erstwhile of (Edie Brickell and) the New Bohemians and a mainstay of the Dallas indie rock, had one hell of a freakout the other night. Had a few drinks, and had been on Chantix, an anti-smoking drug with notoriously unpredictable side effects, for a few days, and he went nuts in the middle of the night, hit his girlfriend repeatedly and went on a screaming fit (which everyone including the girlfriend says was extremely atypical behavior for him), then ran out into the hall, and after some more yelling banged on a neighbor's door. One person who lived there told him to stop, but he didn't. Another person demanded he stop, but he kept yelling and banging on the door.

So the person inside shot him.

To death.

Yes, he claimed it was a 'warning shot.' Delivered through the closed and locked door at face level. Hit Albrecht in the head and killed him.

And, this being Texas, he was 'protecting his property' and thus committed no crime.

You can read about it in this New York Times analysis, where they go over the facts of the case and end up condemning... the anti-smoking drug.

Ok, ok - I'm not saying that the drug company is off the hook. If their product has the potential to make a kind, charming, brilliant and affectionate guy fly into a rage, then yes, that should be dealt with immediately and directly. But are we thinking it's a good idea to let the guy who pulled the trigger off the hook? And this is the 'liberal' New York Times. (In fairness, yesterday they published an article that took a longer look at Texas's Castle Doctrine "self defense" law)

Sorry guys, and I know that dude must have been scared, but this ain't ok.



Carter in happier days

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Holy Shit!

That's what i said a couple times in the last couple days, over sporting events.

First, when maria sharapova was beaten yesterday in the u.s. open by agnieszka radwanska (say it five times fast).



18 years old, seeded 30th, radwanska took apart number 2 seed, tennis 'it' girl and camera spokesperson sharapova. Way cool.

But then the even better exclamation came this morning when i was checking the baseball scores and found that clay buchholz threw a no-hitter for the red sox!

Who??



Well may you ask - this was only buchholz's 2nd major league game; he'd had a little trouble with the law while in college, got drafted by the sox as a compensation pick when they lost pedro martinez, had an up-and-down stint in the minors, then comes in and becomes the third person since 1900 to throw a no-hitter in one of his first two games. And could it have come at a better time? We were all stinging from the sweeps of this past week: the mets were swept by the phillies (ugh) and the red sox were swept by the dreaded evil yankees (ok, ok, they're not REAL evil - not karl rove evil - but still, seeing all those NY caps all over town is a little like being surrounded by swastikas). Then the sox lost a nail-biter against the orioles on friday, and the yanks won again yesterday... so it was a HUGE lift for this rarity to happen, boosted by some amazing defense by second baseman justin pedroia and center fielder coco crisp, and ten - count 'em: 10 - runs on offense. Great way to start september.

Holy shit!

Friday, August 31, 2007

new pix

Got some photos from rachel from the weekend on the beach. Like one of them enough i think i may go ahead and change the ID pic for this blog. What say you?

short films galore

Oooooh, there's actually tons i want to write about today. Maybe i'll visit in fits and starts.

First, last night i went to not one but two screenings of short films at MoMA. The first one was superfab, featuring shorts from...

Laurie Anderson

cloned herself as a dwarf, to share in the work
and the press obligations
male, moustacchioed and distorted
wearing a windbreaker

well, cloning technology is still imperfect, isn't it?

Here's a different Anderson video for your enjoyment and edification:


Miranda July

pulse
rhythm
inversion
people on payphones @ the airport
lecture list of fears
naked baby silverware drawer sculpture
paper smile

And now this isn't the kind of thing i associate with miss miranda, but it's a sleater kinney video, so how wrong can you go?




Pipilotti Rist

extremity of proximity
and perspective
can eroticize
or frigidify
anything

So here's a fragment from one of her other viddies -



...and some others, good, bad and indifferent.

The second screening was kind of lame. Kind of really lame, with a couple pieces whose point clearly was that they went on WAY TOO LONG. Which is fun in theory, but a pain in the ass to sit through. 'Nuff said about that.

So to wrap up for now, please enjoy this bitchen video of the múm song "they made frogs smoke til they exploded" directed by Ingibjörg Birgisdóttir. Rad animation. Go iceland!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Point of precision

And it's a small point, but...

Flaunting is not flouting. And vice versa.

Guess it doesn't come up all that often, in general, but a couple times in the last week or so, I've heard a commentator or interviewee on NPR misuse the term, saying "flaunt" (to display ostentatiously) when he means "flout" (to disregard blatantly). And NPR is supposed to represent the smart guys, right?

For instance, I heard someone being interviewed yesterday say, "Sudan is flaunting the U.N. arms embargo."

No they're not. If they were flaunting it, they'd be waving it around on a flag and yelling "Hey check out this bitchen arms embargo - we are totally LOVING enforcing these rules!" rather than, um, keeping the trade in illicit arms going strong, keeping up the violence in Darfur, and thus violating, or flouting, said embargo.

Once again, kids: You flaunt your wealth by spending $1,100 on fuck-me boots. Then you flout traffic laws by using those boots to cross the street in the middle of the block (the boots were, after all, made for walking).

The fact that the president says 'nucular' instead of 'nuclear,' and comes up with terms like 'strategery' is not a good reason to get mixed up language-wise. In fact, it might be true that simply because he revels in these types of errors (intentionally?) it's not a good idea to get this sort of thing wrong too often.

I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Kismet, Fire Island

Exhausting, as my 'vacations' tend to be. And should be. No sinking into the sand for this group.

First time to F.I. for me - i can't remember ever having gone to a beach in New York at all. Other than Coney Island and Jones Beach, but I didn't go in the water in either case.

So, LIRR to van to ferry to Kismet to the house, which was then our home base for the next three-and-a-half days. Sun and rain vied for primacy, but we danced with the choices they gave us. Which included actual dancing, at a bar called 'the out.'

Speaking of 'out'... we did visit a couple 'clothing optional' beaches, which yielded one of the funnier sights of the weekend: a guy who wore a hat, shirt, shoes AND socks, but no shorts of any kind. Yeah, takes somebody pretty specific to rock that look. One for the ages.

Highlights of the trip:

  • Warm sun, clean cool water
  • Tennis with Rashmi, Susan, Aaron and Sherin
  • Yahtzee on the beach, Celebrity, Loaded Questions, Phase Ten, Scrabble and Poker, Poker, Poker (this group was pretty game)
  • Sherin and Johnny Thunder dancing at The Out
  • Good beer, wine, and gin & tonics (plus that bloody mary that showed up in the nick of time...)
  • Visits from Shannon's folks and Rachel
  • Great music at the house
  • Meal after amazing meal
  • Huge waves after the storm - way fun!
  • The long walk to Ocean Beach
  • No TV the whole damn time
Hope to post some photos soon. Also hope you had a good weekend yourself.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thursday? It's Thursday?!

Ok, it's been a little crazy, and the days melt together just a bit...

But there has been fun to be had amongst the madness. So, for a little bit of each:

  • In the last couple days, i found out that it's incredibly hard to find a swim suit this time of year. Even for a guy, even (especially?) in new york, they run out of all useful sizes by august.

  • Last night was about 2 things: laundry, and hard cider. A friend brought some direct from london and gave me a couple strongbows. Not a 'drinking' night, as such, but i had one with dinner.

  • Today, i had lunch with my oldest friend, and we spent almost the whole time doing the new york times crossword puzzle (yesterday's and today's). Which was actually kind of wonderful...

And in case you might be interested in such things... i came across this photo from i'm guessing 2nd grade:



Hehehe. Gotta love the ol' 44! Points for the folks who know why that number's important...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

vegetarians beware

Well, maybe not 'beware,' but you won't find much for yourselves here today.

People who occasionally indulge in barbecue, on the other hand, have come to precisely the right place. This week i had occasion to enjoy not one but two superfab soulfood establishments in our fair city.

The first one was Spoonbread, on 110th between Columbus and Manhattan Aves. Apparently this is a place Bill Clinton likes to order from, but you shouldn't let that stop you. Went there only moderately hungry and shared the sampler plate, which included: fried catfish, smothered chicken, a short rib of beef, a pork rib, black eyed peas, green beans w/garlic and mac & cheese. I'm drooling all over again writing about it. Oddly enough, the things that really stood out as 'so good you won't be able to find the like elsewhere' were the vegetable portions - the green beans and the stab of collard greens i took from a friend's plate may have had the most potential for a spiritual experience. But everything was very good (and i may have to get the book that supposedly started it all...)


Went to the other, less famous, place yesterday for brunch. It's called Pies-n-Thighs (gotta love that name) and, well, you might not think it's worth taking the L out to Bedford, then walking down to South 5th, then cutting almost all the way back over to the river to sit beneath the Williamsburg bridge in a 'courtyard' surrounded by barbed- and razor-wire when you're already insanely hungry because one of the guys who was supposed to meet you didn't bother to show up or call and you waited for half an hour before deciding he just wasn't showing (those of you who know me know that i HATE that), but believe me, it is. The only reason i don't hesitate to write about it for fear that this tiny place will soon become crowded is that most folks won't believe me, and/or suffer from that obnoxious fear of leaving Manhattan that plagues so many otherwise reasonable people. But this place is borderline transcendent. Had biscuits-n-gravy with eggs: so, ok, i'll get the nitpicking out of the way - the eggs were too done to be properly 'over easy' and the gravy may have been just a teensy bit milky and thin. But it tasted so good, that it would be almost a crime against food to get hung up on such details. The biscuits were, um PERFECT, and the gravy was superdelish, with big giant chunks of sausage in abundance. And, oh that's right, i had a friend with me too - she had hash-n-eggs (the menu features many dishes with an -n-). By now you may not be surprised to find that this was no ordinary hash: its base is big chunks of barbecued pulled pork that was smoked in the big ol' smoker that stands there in the alley with us (i couldn't bring myself to call it a courtyard again).

Omigod omigod and they have pie!!! We were sufficiently full at this point (in spite of how hungry we were when we arrived) that we decided to share a dessert. Which dessert was a peach, raspberry, blueberry crumble. Oh. My. God.

I'm just going to stop now before i commit an act of violence.