Sunday, August 28, 2011

Goodnight Irene

Easing out of what was a great week of vacation, capped by a very intense couple of days of travel and hurricane-fatigue.

We had a wedding to attend in Connecticut yesterday. And although it was a four hour drive (plus a ferry ride from Martha's Vineyard) to get there, we made the somewhat questionable decision to leave the reception early enough to get back in the car and bolt to New York before the really heavy stuff hit. That's right, we figured our best bet was to drive into Hurricane Irene, on the logic that we wouldn't be able to get through if we waited until today, and, well, we really wanted to get home.

In retrospect, it was the right call. The drive was hairy (lots of rain, roads already flooding, defogger overworked) although I have to say the traffic was lighter than I've ever seen on those roads. As in, scary empty on I684, the Hutch, the Saw Mill and the Hudson. As in, one of those spooky apocalypse movies "empty-but-for-other-crazy-people" empty.

Hoboken was closed off altogether - evacuated, cars off the streets (including the parking spaces), so that wasn't even an option. As it happened, we made it to Chelsea in a couple of medium-tense hours, got a parking spot for Lola on reliably high ground, unloaded and unpacked (including the four gallons of spring water we brought home from Massachusetts), filled the tub with water, made sure the flashlights were handy, and absorbed from TV and the internets all the reasons why we probably should have stayed away. We had considered staying with friends in New Paltz and just sticking it out until Monday - it's doubly good we didn't do that, since New Paltz actually seems to have been hit with at least as much flooding as New York.

Woke up to see the rain mostly gone but the wind still in full vigor. Laid low for a while, then went to Kelly's for a bad weather movie party. Exhausted now, and not sure if the trains will be back up tomorrow. Watching the VMAs for some reason and about to fall asleep. Kevin R. Free gets some points for pointing out via Twitter that pop culture itself jumped the shark. Take a moment to mull that with me.

And while I love what Anthony King tweeted about the storm ("If Steve Jobs was still CEO, iRene would have been HUGE.") if we're going to be disappointed that this storm wasn't more disastrous than it actually was, that's the kind of disappointment I can live with pretty easily.

Goodnight everybody.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

His Goal in Life... to be an Echo, of course. (It's well known to all the visitors of Solid Sound.)

Which is also the name of the Jaume Plensa sculpture that's been gracing Madison Square Park for the last few months.

As in Echo and Narcissus. As in from the Greek myth of the beautiful nymph who is cursed to be able only to repeat what others say. Whose last day of residence in the park is tomorrow.

It's been a great sort of up-from-the-ground, "what's that?!" addition to the area, in my opinion. Little bit of mystery, little bit of mythology. If you haven't seen it and you're around, maybe run by and pay a visit.

And it's one of the corollaries of public art that it doesn't always get to stick around forever. And this Echo's farewell may not be as heartbreaking as the one she gave Narcissus, but it does mean that we won't be able to have this scene any more.

Or this one:

And with that, I give you a lovely little viddy of the song that gave this post its title. Enjoy.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Reveling in Excess

That phrase has a couple different meanings for me this week. On a personal level, I've had a big week for music - made a visit to my local shop in Hoboken and got some fun stuff, including the Feelies new album (their first in just about forever), a really good Buddy Holly tribute album, a Peter Greenaway/Louis Andriessen opera that I haven't had a chance to listen to yet, and Volume 2 from the Baseball Project, just in time for the Sox/Yanks series.

Not only that, but I have been slowly but steadily collecting Bach music in various forms, well, forever, but in an intensified manner since reading Eric Siblin's The Cello Suites, which I recommend fiercely. Highest marks, for real.

And then the thing that made it borderline excessive was when I went back to my place a couple days later to find a package from my friend Scott in Rochester, who had texted me to let me know that he was sending me a thank you for a few CDs I'd sent him a long time ago. This "thank you" turned out to be an insane amount of music. I believe the technical term is "a sh*t ton." An embarrassment of riches (much of which I haven't heard in years, and plenty of which I have never heard at all). Had some fun exploring that, and will enjoy many more hours delving into this music.

So that's the good part, on a personal level.

But you couldn't be blamed for thinking that when I title a post "Reveling in Excess" in August of 2011 that I might be referring to some of the more depressing recent news items. That perhaps I was alluding to something like, oh, I don't know, the nonsense surrounding the recently-put-on-hold-but-hardly-put-to-rest debt ceiling debate; or the hit the U.S. credit rating took the other day; or the anemic nature of the "good news" about unemployment numbers; or the perverse-and-getting-worse disparity between the rich and poor in this country - the stat that seems to come up a lot lately mentions that the richest 400 people in America control more wealth than the poorest half of all Americans, i.e. more than 150 million people. [Read a fact check here by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, scarcely a liberal mouthpiece.] You'd think that the disconnect would get some real attention from people holding elected office in a time of serious financial crisis.

But it doesn't.

And you might have noticed an article this week about a distinct uptick in spending on high-end luxury items. Embarrassment of riches takes on a whole other meaning.

I will leave you for now with an excerpt from Drew Westen's very good opinion piece in today's Times. I encourage you to click on the link and read the whole story, but for this quote, Westen envisions Obama's Inauguration Day, in the wake of brutal political discord, questionable military policy, and especially the devastated economy. Here's what he thinks the American people wanted, or maybe even needed, to hear Obama say on that day:
“I know you’re scared and angry. Many of you have lost your jobs, your homes, your hope. This was a disaster, but it was not a natural disaster. It was made by Wall Street gamblers who speculated with your lives and futures. It was made by conservative extremists who told us that if we just eliminated regulations and rewarded greed and recklessness, it would all work out. But it didn’t work out. And it didn’t work out 80 years ago, when the same people sold our grandparents the same bill of goods, with the same results. But we learned something from our grandparents about how to fix it, and we will draw on their wisdom. We will restore business confidence the old-fashioned way: by putting money back in the pockets of working Americans by putting them back to work, and by restoring integrity to our financial markets and demanding it of those who want to run them. I can’t promise that we won’t make mistakes along the way. But I can promise you that they will be honest mistakes, and that your government has your back again."
Yeah, something like that would have been nice. It still would.