Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Memorial Day Rundown

Once again, a big weekend. Here's the rundown:

Friday Night:

- Went to jackson heights to meet jon & kir's new baby boy! Had a great time with those guys and beckett, read a story to joseph and met dean for the first time.
- Jon & i went to brooklyn to check out the club WWIX will be playing in late june - wouldn't you know it's matchless, where we saw easy anthems (and creaky boards) last weekend. Jqln met us out there - always a plus.


- Bit of a sleep in, but not too late. Way too much to do for that.
- Went to the gym for regular/non-yoga workout for the first time in a while
- Installed air conditioner for the summer.
- Picked up tim (dear friend and colleague writing a book about the living theater) at newark airport, caught up with him over a bite at home in air-conditioned comfort
- While tim met with other colleagues, went to elysian park to read a bit.
- Into NYC for a bit of dinner theater featuring a friend.
- Up to the heights for a birthday party. Not only that, a toga party. Leslie's friend's roommate was turning 19, and togas were the order of the evening, though not everyone wore them. Moi, no sheet, but i certainly appreciated some of the toga creativity - and a polish couple there made a remarkable drink from an herbal-infused vodka called 'zubrowka' that tastes like apple pie!


- Brunch with tim at amanda's - yum!
- Some baseball on TV. (Remember people, every loss for the yankees is a victory for civilization.)
- Into town to meet lori at a park by the river. On my way up 9th ave. in my finest faux boston/irish catholic outfit (red sox cap, notre dame t-shirt), i stepped into a bar briefly, not for a drink, but just to watch derek jeter strike out in the bottom of the 9th with two outs, a runner on third and the yanks down by one. Tee hee!
- Good conversation with lori at the park. Watched one of those gigantic cruise ships pull out. Were all those cops and heavily-armed soldiers there because of the ship, or for fleet week?
- Changed clothes at lori's place, then met tim to see 'beyond glory.' This show was excellent - stephen lang one-man show about medal-of-honor winners. Seriously good; deserves its own entry - maybe another time.
- Cheesesteak and beer after the show, then back to the 'boken.


- Woke up early for some inscrutable reason. The good news was that i caught a reading of howard zinn's voices from 'a people's history of the united states' with a bunch of good actors on democracy now!
- Bagels with tim, which he couldn't eat because of a visceral reaction to cornmeal (he gets really sick if he eats it.) Yet another reason i hardly ever go to the shitty bagel place across the street - who bakes bagels on a pan with cornmeal???
- Took tim back to the newark airport so he could fly back to indy.
- The day that was supposed to be all rainy turned out very nice, so, back to elysian park for some sun and reading.
- Into NYC to see adrienne shelley's 'waitress;' not necessarily the kind of movie i'd normally gravitate toward, but because of adrienne (you read all about that here - and everywhere else - last november) i could not miss it. And it was good, if unexpectedly sentimental and hollywood for such an indie gal.
- Back to hoboken for a quick shower/bite/change before heading back into town for melissa errico at birdland. Shit, she's good. So relaxed and comfortable, and what a voice. Plus beautiful, radiant, funny, charismatic - who could ever like a girl like that? Damn patrick mcenroe...
- Nightcap with leslie.

There it is.


Friday, May 25, 2007

Bonnaroo Magic

Alright, the Bonnaroo Schedule has been posted. Leaving us all breathless. Mostly in the best way, althought there will be some scary moments on Sunday afternoon when we're rushing from stage to stage trying to catch parts of sets (or miss out on some really good stuff entirely.)

So this seemed a good occassion to do a little Magic 8pod on the way in today:

How will Bonnaroo go for our little carload o' folks?

Way Down in the Hole, Blind Boys of Alabama

Ok, this seemed scary at first, but on closer inspection I think it's singularly auspicious. We are going way down to Southern Tennessee, after all. It's a damned good song, with a great groove the way BBoA do it. Plus it goes on about how we have nothing to worry about as long as we walk with Jesus - and we're rolling with a seminarian, after all. :)

What about the drive down?

Bridge over Troubled Water, the Johnny Cash version

Again, this gives pause at first, then turns out to be great. I mean, the title's, you know, troubling. But if Johnny Cash is going to be our Bridge, we're in good shape. Sail on silver girl and all. With help from Fiona Apple and that bowed bass.

How will the camping go?

Softly as in a Morning Sunrise, Sonny Rollins

Well here there's no ambiguity. Sweet, cool, vital. Relaxed and energized at once. Distinct musicians working together to make something greater than the sum of its parts. That's what I'm talking about!

[Interestingly enough, none of these folks have anything to do with Bonnaroo, but they're all in the spirit of the event, right?]

Tacked on a question about the dayjob:

What's the deal with the dayjob?

The Man that Got Away, the Jeff Buckley version.


I love it when the ipod fucks with me. What is this supposed to mean? That this job is going to slip away from me? That it might be a waste of time to stay there? This is from a live show, with Jeff singing hauntingly (natch) and a cappella. Let's not dwell, but move right along...

How are things going to go with theater/acting work in the immediate future?

On the Run, Pink Floyd

This is interesting and encouraging. Foreshadowing Autobahn, PF gives us a train on the fast track, propelled forward in all due haste and then some. It's an open question whether we're running toward something or away from something (or both) but it's worthwhile to point out that this is track number 2 on Dark Side of the Moon; that is, after the inhalation of the opening number, it launches one of the most successful albums of all time - so I'm calling it a good step forward.

And that's today's installment of Magic 8pod.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

It's about damn time

Wouldn't have thought anyone would say it on MSNBC, but keith olbermann gave an amazing editorial about the bush military budget and the democrats caving to it in spite of a clear mandate to REALLY support the troops by ending the asinine war.

Watch the video if you can, because it includes some verbiage missing from the transcript, including the edward r. murrow tag, 'good night and good luck,' delivered with a sneer that expresses all his (our) disgust with the government, and contains a challenge to us to hold our representatives accountable for their 'compromises.'

I'm impressed, keith. And it's not often i say that about someone sitting in a chair like yours.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Full Weekend

This was a busy, action-packed weekend. Maybe not as relaxing as some weekends in recent-ish memory, but i'm not complaining. Had a good time, and got some stuff done.

Friday: after work, met with marianne, lisa, amye, dan and rashmi at a bar for some happy hour action and catch-up conversation. After which i walked with rashmi to meet some of her friends at a bar by madison square, then we rolled down to soho - they had a fancy dinner at l'ecole; i caught the end of leah siegel's show over at rockwood music hall on allen st. - v/good, as always (though that room is too fucking small!) Then i subwayed up to morningside heights for katie's housewarming party - which was very fine indeed. The apartment is great, the guests were fun (j.p. and sherin were there) the food was remarkable (especially a mushroom pate that was really mouthwatering, and a plate of brownies made with hot pepper that snuck up on you in a slow-burning, extremely delicious way) and of course the hostess (and hosts!) were scintillating.

Saturday i finally went to see 'journey's end' in the afternoon; not my favorite time of day to see straight plays, but it was damned good. Go see it before it closes next month. But be warned - it kicks you in the gut. Mary jo made the mistake of traveling by cab on the day of the big dance parade on 5th ave, and barely made it to the belasco on time.

After the show i literally had to RUN to an audition on 8th ave. - set my phone to vibrate at me at 4:35, stuck around until the curtain started lowering at 4:38 then hightailed it to 36th and 8th for a 4:55 audition. Not something i recommend, but i made it. I found later that i missed out on an unusually moving curtain call. Small price to pay. Then i walked down to chelsea as it started to rain to meet up with mj again. She was going to introduce me to bikram yoga, but the rain and the aftermath of the show swayed us to chill at her place instead. Then sherin came into town and we had some italian food before heading out to williamsburg to see the band easy anthems at matchless. They were really good (as was the pseudo-80s power pop/art rock band before them, whose name i can't remember, to my shame) and we were joined by terry, jackee and j.p. That part of town is SOOOOOOoooo hipper-than-thou, but they do have some fun stuff going on.

Sunday i slept in a bit, then did laundry and grabbed some bagels and lox. Mmmmm... bagels and lox... Read part of the paper, checked out email and such, listened to the 'new' elliott smith: called 'new moon' it's a compilation of outtakes and alternate versions, which description does not do anything like justice to what an amazing record this is. One of the most important songwriters of his generation; we all miss him muchly.

Then rashmi came out and we played a set of tennis, then cleaned up and went into town for the grand unveiling of happy sunshine kung fu flower, which rocked the house. Good, forceful, funny satire nicely done to a packed house in a club setting - in your face and below your belt all at once. Glad to have been involved in an earlier incarnation, aim to return to the ninja fold when the union sitch gets worked out. But for now, they are going strong and a swell time was had by all (though there were some rumblings about the offensiveness factor, i don't know how one could do a show like this without some of that.) My main complaint was that after we used up our comp drink, the featured beer cost 9 bucks. Ouch.

So, yeah, full weekend.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

more music more music more music

A few musical tidbits popped into my coffee-soaked morning in a way that seemed simultaneously random and oddly connected, so i thought i'd put them out here. Mix of alternative and way out there alternative stuff:

The good people at wfmu had paul collins (no relation to genesis drummer 'highest highs and lowest lows' phil) from the great underknown power pop band the nerves on their show this morning. Played some nerves tunes, a couple from his (slightly) more well known band the beat. Did not play any of nerve bandmate peter case's (considerably) more well known the plimsouls, at least not while i was listening. Just one of those bands that made good fun rocks in a time that was slightly out of joint - but only just slightly: everybody knows blondie's cover of the nerves closest thing to a 'hit' hanging on the telephone, which has hopefully kept those guys in diamonds and pearls all these years...

While collins was telling stories on the radio, i was reading magnet, which tends to be a pretty good source of indie rock news and reviews, and came across a not-bad sidebar on jazz titan/duke ellington partner billy strayhorn, particularly the new documentary 'lush life' that pbs put out, and the star-studded tribute soundtrack that was released recently. Such a great musician, such a great story, inevitably overshadowed by the duke but still a giant. The article referred to him as a triple threat (composer/arranger/lyricist) and i'd add that his piano skills put him into quadruple-threat territory (have you heard this great moment in the 'duke ellington meets count basie' disc where duke is conducting 'take the a train' and count basie has gone into hiding, not daring to play duke's theme song? Pretty funny, and there's billy covering the ivories - not that much of a challenge i suppose, since he wrote the song.) It continually boggles my mind that he wrote 'lush life' when he was 19 years old.

And, in the realm of the random, i ran across a great line in a review for the new bjork cd in the onion on the train yesterday: "Whatever Bjork was going for, it couldn't have been to sound like bad outtakes from Fleetwood Mac's 'Tusk'" Which, in my case, made me want to hear the cd even more. :) (The review was basically a favorable one, btw.)

Also ran into a sidebar on bunny rabbit, whom i had the good fortune to catch at tonic before it, sadly, lamentably, tragically closed recently.

Gotta run to 'journey's end,' then an audition, then 'easy anthems' tonight in brooklyn.

Ok, extra credit for you if you know where i picked up the title for today's entry (hint: think the who)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Met and the Mets

Went to the Metropolitan Opera last week to see Puccini's Il Trittico. Three one-act operas tucked into one tidy evening (well, if almost 4 hours worth of opera + intermissions can be called tidy.) Stunning and spectacular and all that stuff. Far from perfect, but definitely a good night out. The biggest production at the Met this year, and if you've ever been there, you know that that's downright impressive. Three completely different, gigantic sets - even if, as my friend said - and everyone was thinking, one of them did bring to mind The Sound of Music. ;)

Worth mentioning: Barbara Frittoli, the main soprano in Suor Angelica, the second of the night's three operas, has one of the most amazing voices I've ever heard. At least, she was fantastic last Thursday. We were sitting waaaaaaay up in the back of the top balcony, and when she opened her mouth the first time, my head just snapped toward her. Incredible, seemingly effortless singing poured out of her and filled that huge hall with some pretty glorious music.

Which doesn't mean that Suor Angelica isn't still a pretty cheesy story.

Gianni Schicchi
was tremendously fun. Funnier than maybe any opera I remember seeing/hearing. Have to get back there, maybe before the final week of the season next year...

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Caught the Mets again last night at Shea, getting beat up by the Cubs this time. I have enough fondness for the Cubs that I appreciated seeing Aramis Ramirez's grand slam in person (and not SO much fondness for the Mets that I couldn't let myself enjoy it. Plus, Shawn Green gave us a four-bagger for the Mets' lonely run, so that was fun too) Tonight they had a big rain delay. Flipped channels a while ago and was surprised to see the game going on after all. It's almost midnight and they're just in the 6th inning. Sorry guys, not gonna stay up for this one...

Sunday, May 06, 2007


Last night jackee and i went to see BE, by Mayumana, at the union square theatre. It's a movement piece - dance/percussion/clowning/music. Virtually no dialogue (though there were a few words of english, and some limited speaking/singing in other languages.) Superbly compelling, very high wow factor. It's a multi-cultural/multi-disciplinary company, which sounds like it's just latching on to some buzz words du jour, but in this case it's the real thing: performers from israel, mallorca, mainland spain, ivory coast, switzerland and probably other places i didn't catch, with training in gymnastics, music, acting, art, drumming, music and a bunch of different kinds of dance. Great combination of elements that were so simple they make you think you could do it yourself (and inspire you to try) with feats so difficult and demanding they make you wonder how one company can incorporate so many skills.

It's gotten some flak for being too much like things like 'stomp' and 'drumstruck' (neither of which did i see, though i've seen extensive video of 'stomp') and for lacking 'content.'

To which i respond: pshaw!

The shit is fun! Really exciting and enjoyable, BE is singular in its cross-generational/cultural appeal, with elements of old-school clowning (difficulty with objects, anyone?) hip hop rhythms (including some pretty damn good beat boxing) first rate performance and technical work on every level, audience-friendly audience participation (never has an audience member's rhythmlessness been mocked so funnily and kindly at once) and very immediate and alive. There are some segments that feel like filler, but what they are filling in is so extraordinary one is inclined to forgive the need to make a perhaps imperfect transition.

The ticket price is high, but discounts are available everywhere you turn. I dare you not to enjoy yourself. Not everything has to be hamlet.