Thursday, December 30, 2010
That's my cousin Lucy up there, and her husband Mike. Then there is the Minden Courthouse, near where my Dad grew up, and our lab Belle, who gets sweeter every time I see her. The last photo is a gift from my sister-- a book of letters that Julia Child and Avis DeVoto wrote back and forth from Paris to New England in the 50s. They talk about cooking and knives and Nixon and McCarthy, and it really is quite wonderful.
I love this time of year and look forward to toasting in 2011 with a four day weekend that I just realized I have. Seriously, it didn't occur to me until 3pm that I don't have to be back at work until Tuesday.
Happy New Year, all!
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Alison and I cannot. stop. laughing. over this site.
If you read Freedom, watch this. Some good Franzen/DFW scoop in there.
Fantastic piece by George Saunders from the New Yorker online.
Guess where the 'greenest restaurant in America' is located!?
Happy almost Christmas, dearies! Kiss New York for me, I'll be in the homeland drinking tea and taking bubble baths. IT'S COLD THERE.
Friday, December 17, 2010
And a bit of our corresponding chatter:
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
It's a commentary on the 'Made in China' phenomenon and the shrinking world and it's brilliant. More on Weiwei here.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Hello my lovelies, did you have nice weekends? Yesterday was terrific, so rainy and terrible out that I was forced to stay indoors and watch movies all day. (Well, that is until around about 5pm when I thought I was going to go mad from being indoors all day that I dashed to a bikram yoga class on Court Street to downward dog with other stir crazy girls. I'm not so good at staying in.)
Anyway. I actually posted this poem a year ago, but it is so very appropriate for this time of year, all about hope and new beginnings. The last few stanzas (stanzas?) get to me, so if nothing else, skip over the first part about the warbler and spend some time with the lying in bed portion of the poem. (But then, of course, you will want to circle back and read the warbler part because the laying in bed portion was so very perfect.)
So here you are, New York. Enjoy this poem and enjoy this dark and lovely December day.
And the Cantilevered Inference Shall Hold the Day
itself felt and trembles towards meanings we never intuited
or dreamed. Take, for example, how the warbler, perched on a
mere branch, can kidnap the day from its tediums and send us
heavenwards, or how, held up by nothing we really see, our
spirits soar and then, in a mysterious series of twists and turns,
come to a safe landing in a field, encircled by greenery. Nothing
I can say to you here can possibly convince you that a man
as unreliable as I have been can smuggle in truths between tercets
and quatrains on scraps of paper, but the world as we know
is full of surprises, and the likelihood that here, in the shape
of this very bird, redemption awaits us should not be dismissed
so easily. Each year, days swivel and diminish along their inscrutable
axes, then lengthen again until we are bathed in light we were not
prepared for. Last night, lying in bed with nothing to hold onto
but myself, I gazed at the emptiness beside me and saw there, in the
shape of absence, something so sweet and deliberate I called it darling.
No one who encrusticates (I made that up!) his silliness in a bowl,
waiting for sanctity, can ever know how lovely playfulness can be,
and, that said, let me wish you a Merry One (or Chanukah if you
prefer), and may whatever holds you up stay forever beneath you,
and may the robin find many a worm, and our cruelties abate,
and may you be well and happy and full of mischief as I am,
and may all your nothings, too, hold something up and sing.
Friday, December 10, 2010
My office holiday party is Monday, at a fancy Nolita restaurant where everyone will undoubtedly down champagne, stand a good two feet apart, stare awkwardly at the food, and be home by 7. Same, same.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Super Labo recently reissued a book of Joel Meyerowitz's 1991 collection of portraits, 'Redheads.' All of his subjects are redheads (clearly) and they really are quite something. From the book,
I never really had the painful redheaded experiences like those above, but I am interested in any bond--physical or otherwise-- that brings random people together in a general understanding. These little bonds are what make our silly New York world tick, leveling the playing field when we realize that, 'Oh! We both summer at the cape!' 'Seriously!? I grew up 10 miles from there!' 'Don't you hate shopping for pants with such a long inseam!? It's so frustrating!' It's a rare loveliness, isn't it? Watching those 'blood knots' form?
The book is worth your time, both for the conceptual insight from a group of people who make up less than 2% of the worlds population(!) and also for the sheer talent of Meyerowitz at capturing the human spirit so generously. More here.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Black Swan. Black Swan is the story of Nina, a New York City ballet dancer played by a dramatically changed Natalie Portman, and her pursuit of a single dream. Nina lives at home with a controlling mother, tends toward bulimia and compulsive scratching, and doesn't have any life experience to speak of. She eats grapefruit for breakfast and sleeps in a room dressed in teddy bears. She's timid and dedicated and quiet and is suddenly handed the role of a lifetime-- Swan Queen in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.
But alongside the iconic white swan, crowned in feathers and sparkles, and white, white, white!, Nina is also asked play her evil doppleganger-- the Black Swan. SEDUCE ME!, the director (Vincent Cassel) cries, while grabbing at her skinny limbs in want and in anger. He maintains that she’s suited only for half the double role, but offers both parts anyway as a sort of sick fascination with watching a little girl crack into a woman. It's a brilliant set-up: asking the Purest Dancer of All to lose control. And there our story begins.
I read somewhere that Darren Aronofsky tended toward a tight camera angle on the back of Portman's neck for much of Black Swan to hint at paranoia. We, the audience, therefore play the part of 'stalker'. By doing so, he brought the audience along with Nina in a rapid head game of feeling like someone is watching you, anticipating turning on the lights to someone standing there in the darkness.
The dancing is beautiful-- breathless at points-- thanks in no way to Aronofsky. It says something about ballet itself, as Aronofsky did his best to darken its shiny surface. He favorited cracking joints, quivering exhales, bleeding toes and emaciated backbones in place of the lightness we are used to. We see dancing swans through a shakey lens and the sound of heavy breathing. They become something else there before us-- puppets representing Dickensian archetypes: Good and evil. Right and wrong. Pure and tainted. Tchaikovsky's violins start to scream and that music will never sound the same, I assure you.
The movie could have been made about go-carts, Portman stated in an interview, making the point that it isn't about ballet at all in the end. But I disagree. The ballet world cradles such a story perfectly, for the very reasons stated above. It's an incredibly soft backdrop for such a harsh story. Without it, Black Swan could feel too mean, too terrifying, too destructive to matter. But because of the ballet, this baby will win awards.
Yes, the film is GRUESEOME-- a horror film or close to it. I closed my eyes for at least 10 minutes of that, but so did everyone else around me. Don't even really know what happened in that hospital room with Winona Ryder, I just heard a lot of tearing flesh. Ick. Honestly, a good chunk of that could have been cut out, but I personally don't like gore to begin with. To me, it wasn't necessary in leading the psychological downfall, but I will say that the blood and guts did lend toward a PHYSICAL reaction from the audience, which absolutely has its place in the film's lasting impression. You will leave completely shaken, trust me, and will have to force your mind away from it when crawling into bed that first night. Shivers. I still can't think about it at bedtime, to be honest.
Friday, December 3, 2010
We were greeted by the best possible addition to a gallery opening-- a coat check!!!-- alongside a warm group of appreciative viewers. The
Allard's work is what you expect-- narrative, epic, impactful. The exhibit spans nearly five decades of large-scale color photographs and a selection of unique Polaroids that had us all itching to ditch our city jobs for that which would allow us time in Spain, in Mexico, and Argentina.
'National Geographic Photographer' might just be the most enviable job around, yessirry, and the photographer himself was kind, to boot. A lovely night in Chelsea--not at all expected and oh-so-refreshing for this stunted gallerina.
The show runs through January 8th, and is accompanied by a worthy catalog-- get thee to Kasher.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
He spoke about the book's source (a woman he met for 10 minutes at a party), the blocks (quitting a novel two years into the process), the beauties (metaphors working to his advantage), the cerulean warbler on the cover ("A likely poster-bird," he called it) and Oprah (they are bff now). I could all but hear the many aspiring writers in that room lapping up his wisdom like milk, and the female audience members swooning in unison. That man is attractive, yes sirry.
Franzen's casual and somewhat self deprecating responses to audience questions were refreshing from someone I only assumed would be harsh and jaded in person. But--turns out-- he finds his own characters humorous and interesting, which actually shifted my view a bit on the exhausting unhappiness with which he tends to sculpt. The brutality of it all is funny in the end, and thank goodness for that.
Also, I just realized that Franzen will be reading at McNally Jackson tonight, a few blocks from my office. Is he following me!??! Wouldn't be surprised.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
This rain! So terrible! I was in the worst mood this morning, dripping wet and freezing, but came across these Alfred Eisenstaedt photographs that cheered me up a bit.
Eisenstaedt's work is clearly a bit cliche at this point (re: kissing sailor), and while still reeking of sentiment, these photographs of children at a Parisian puppet theatre in 1963 seem fresh and honest, not as posed as some of his work. (The second shot is the moment that St. George slays the dragon-- so perfect! That little guy at the bottom, swoon!)
Stay dry, New York, and let's hope the temperature drops soon so that we can trade this rain for snow. Happy DECEMBER!
Monday, November 22, 2010
I would probably argue the Moby Dick promotion, but its only been three days since my viewing, and its possible my views will shift. I love this novel. Loved it the first time I read it, and drank in every single word on Friday night in what can best be described as a prayer. My mind started wandering exactly two times during the performance, both of which I mentally bookmarked, and reread later that evening from my own worn copy in my bed in Brooklyn, clinging to the haze.
I knew all about this play before seeing it-- read the stellar reviews, contributed to the buzz, and gawked with the masses regarding its odd format. It's a 8.5 hour play-- starts at 3pm, ends at 11:30-- that uses for its script the entire text of The Great Gatsby (that wonderful blue and white paperback copy we all read in High School), each and every word and no additions. The formula doesn't make sense, any of it, which is clearly part of its appeal. I was told I that I couldn't get a ticket, that the production has been sold out for months, but reader, please. I found myself there at the Public Theater on Friday afternoon, Playbill in hand, front row center, eagerly awaiting what would surely be an eight hour thrill.
The show opens in a drab office in a nondescript industry, somewhere in America. A khaki-wearing redheaded someone enters the space, hangs his coat, and reaches to turn on his outdated clunky computer. The computer won't start, he tries again, murmurs to a coworker or two who have entered looking bored-as-all-get-out, and suddenly, VOILA!, our leading lady of a book pops from a Rolodex as we all audibly adjusted forward in our seats to discover how the hell this was going to play out.
Our redhead flips to the first page, and slowly begins reading the novel aloud-- seemingly for the first time-- and clunkily starts the ride. I knew it would work, that we would soon be successfully transported to East Egg from Office Building Somewhere, but those first twenty minutes were key to drawing in an audience in dulled mass confusion only to charm our socks off four short hours later.
Scott Shepherd, the redhead, of Elevator Repair Service took on the role of Nick Carraway--that daunting task of narrating the show and speaking all but the scattered dialogue aloud-- although I'm pretty sure he was actually playing Jimmy Stewart playing Nick Carraway, which was a fantastic decision on his part. His voice dipped and clung, a melody of normalcy that we recognize from an era gone by.
Literary snobs love to cry disappointment to adaptations of classic novels, arguing that they shouldn't be touched, and cannot be approved upon. But this is different-- its as if Collins always wanted to remake Gatsby, but understood the task as a setup for gigantic failure, as all abridged versions are. Then he decided to not take anything out, read it in its entirety, and completely dismiss the idea of costuming and set design all together. We already know what it looks like, you see. We don't need him to tell us, the book does that just fine. (THIS was just announced, by the way, and its two leading men actually sat behind me at Friday's production, ha!)
It is with this attempt that we can't argue the execution because we all saw the story as we saw it the first time we read Gastby, and I will bet that most of us geeks sitting there for all 8.5 hours read it every year. I could tell you here, exactly what happened on that stage, but even I am unbelieving of it now. The famous twinkling party scene at Gatsby's manner was played out as the cast cleaned up papers and spilled whiskey and note cards strewn across the floor from the 'Myrtle Apartment' scene right before. Jordan Baker served as our comedic relief, and the swimming pool was played by a leather couch. Gastby wore a magenta suit, and Daisy was brunette. None of it adds up, which is the point of it all, you see.
I left the theater upon its intricate and compelling conclusion understanding the real feat of whole thing: GATZ is a true testament to the human mind and the scope of an often neglected grown-up imagination. It's also a testament to good theater and to good writing and--let us not forget-- the book itself, but it is the human mind that takes us from a theater, to an office, to Southampton Proper without explanation. I've written about this before-- my annoyance at too-literally-executed set designs on Broadway and Off-- and GATZ all but laughs at big budget attempts to create a castle, when their audience is fully capable of building one themselves.
Why the office? It was someplace to start-- a challenge, I presume, of John Collins to his actors. It was also about READING BOOKS, and turning off our computers and ipads and droids, sitting down with a book, which come to think of it, is the same message we received from the other show I saw last week. Interesting. At any rate, the show closes with Nick seated at his desk, after a slow stripping of office supplies and papers and the computer itself, sometime in the past 4 acts. I thought perhaps they would nod back to the office setting at the end, fixing the computer and returning to daily life, but they didn't and I'm glad. It was the quiet ending Fitzgerald offered, so we left still in Gatsby's world, and not our own.
GATZ is closing on the 28th, so SEE IT. This show is magic, I mean it, and despite what you will hear, there are tickets to be found.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
*(Listening to too many Prince William interviews, my mind has started speaking with a British accent. And NO, I'm not excited about Will and Kate. UGH. Dreams shattered.)
Friday, November 19, 2010
Having a Coke with You
by Frank O'Hara
Frank O’Hara, “Having a Coke with You” from The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara. Copyright © 1971 by Mauren Granville-Smith, Administratrix of the Estate of Frank O'Hara.
Source: The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara (1995)
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
However. Back in the TAL archives, there exists a really fantastic episode about Thanksgiving. The hilarious Sarah Vowell examines "what happens when television takes on a subject it really has no business exploring at all, but seems fairly obsessed with nonetheless: The Pilgrims." It's a mockery of American pop culture and of a holiday that makes us a little uncomfortable when actually considering its roots.
Have you read William Bradford? I have! And I highly recommend it, actually, although its a pain to get through. It's the original text from Plymouth, THE primary source, told in his seventeenth century tongue. It's gory and intelligent and raw, and makes you feel like a slightly better American for understanding what really took place on that first Thanksgiving. Read it. OR listen to Sarah Vowell talk about it.
In the meantime, I'll be brushing up on my pie making skills. Happy holidays, New York.
Friday, November 12, 2010
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Well, let's just mix it up a bit! It sounds interesting! I signed us up, you are going."
"Where is it? Brooklyn?"
And thus our night began.
I don't really know what inspired me to sign up for a decorating class to begin with, let alone a class with a woman who claims to value clutter and unmade beds, but it was held at Anthropologie, John is usually up for anything, and I was in the mood for something other than dinner.
I feel like I've been at a party since the middle of October, taking cabs home late and needing bagels in the morning. I was in the mood to do something inspiring, instead of thought-provoking. Not a movie. Not a book reading. Not a show. I didn't want to have to mingle and I didn't want to strain my senses to impress anyone. I basically wanted to hang out with a room full of Me's, and will not apologize for that. No boys allowed, you see.
We were greeted with gingerbread cookies and fancy Missoni San Pellegrino sparkling water by a stunning woman in a one-piece jumpsuit wearing a huge smile and generous spirit. Mary Randolph Carter, or Carter as she prefers, led the course, and for a brief hour and a half let us into her world.
She is a woman who adores living, simply put. Her passion is infectious, and as she danced around a few of her belongings-- yard sale paintings, handmade linens, mix-matched porcelain teacups-- we too started smiling and relaxing and loving it all in unison. She used the word 'love' so often that she began stopping herself, although I wish she wouldn't have. 'I love these curtains!' 'I love these little dogs.' 'I love using painters' palates in place of placemats!!!' 'I hate sofas, I really do, but I love covering them with pillows and wool blankets and beautiful things." Just insane enough to make us feel comfortable. A real nut.
Yet her enthusiasm swirled around the vibrantly set table, fit for a mad-hatter or wild poet, or Monica on Friends, and landed on our tongues. She taught us to fall in love with our surroundings and to create homes for living in, and to leave the housekeeping for the birds. She's the anti-Martha you might say (although Martha and Carter have been 'friends for years!') and thank goodness for that. Our homes should rise up and greet us, she sang. They should be a reflection of the people who live there. They should make us feel happy, alive, and like our own Best Selves.
In the end, it was just what I needed. She's an artist, really, although she doesn't paint, her home is her canvas. (A peek, here!) I asked her about the painting, I assumed she did. I also asked her what music she would be playing during her Thanksgiving dinner and she said 'Coldplay. Or Cole Porter. Or both!' She has a new book out, called 'A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of A Misspent Life' with all of this included. Perfect, right? Such a good title.
Thanks, Carter. Loved it.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
I mentioned that I've been listening to Bing Crosby's Christmas album this morning to Little Sister, who immediately sent this little ditty my way:
"a couple of a teenage tune-smiths around hollywood here. mel torme and bob wells of pendenitum wrote a song that i consider quite appropriate for tonight. skitch i'd like to do it for ya. it's called the christmas song."
Bing Crosby's Christmas album is the best because he encourages you to sing along before EVERY carol. It's as if he's running one of those public radio fund-raising drives, asking for 'just ten dollars a month, to keep our programming strong', but instead of money he's asking us to 'sing along, wherever you are!' 'Just tap your toes!' 'Get into the Christmas cheer!'. It's amazing.
Also, he uses the phrase 'gee-wiz' while doing so three times throughout the recording. Em and I have it memorized, hence the Mel Torme bit above. That's not a lyric found online, people, that is honest-to-goodness memorization on her part. This album is in our BLOOD, yo.
And pulling out Bing's version of The First Noel or Jingle Bells or A Christmas Song, or White Christmas (!!!!) really is the best prescription for a bad mood, even if it's only November. NOT that I've been in a sour mood for the past
day, FINE, week. Not that I've been slamming doors and rolling my eyes and pouting around listing off all the the terrible things about my little life that I normally hold dear.
I'm ready, dear reader. Ready for tinsel and lights and angels and shopping and garland and the other Garland. Bring it, Bing.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
"Dealers, please don’t stop talking! Your galleries are special to me: They are wormholes, time machines, matter transporters, gardens of delight, shtetls, hellholes, mediocrities, meritocracies, Dixieland tunes, places to get to the bottom of things, voting booths, fun fairs, tranquilizer bullets, big trees, missing links, states of grace, secular temples, travel bureaus, shallow ends of the pool, deep ends of the ocean, shelters from the storm, nails in your back, stones in your shoe, vicious circles, and burning rings of fire.-Jerry SaltzA friend sent this bit to me, from Saltz's column on Vulture. I always appreciate Saltz's unashamed nostalgia when writing about art. The world could use a bit more sincerity, don't you think? I know my little corner could.
Photo: Alexis Rockman, our Dec 2010 Basel: Miami cover artist, whom I interesting.
Monday, November 8, 2010
For The Marriage of Faustus and Helen
by Hart Crane
Source: The Complete Poems of Hart Crane (2001)
Friday, November 5, 2010
I WANT THAT. You can purchase it for me HERE.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Both Patty and Denise (Freedom, and The Corrections, respectively) act it out, cowering in the arms of married others, in the shadows hidden from husbands and fathers and their own conscious selves. Sure, you can blame adolescent disruptions but Franzen doesn't seem to be driving home any real messages of the harm of date rape and infidelity. He pushes more radically the idea that even the good girls carry a burden: The burden of feigning morality.
As in Freedom, Franzen offers a view of the Midwest so very familiar to East Coast transplants (such as Franzen and, well, me.) He touches on the uncomfortable and unwarranted guilt that we feel for judging the land that raised us. We wish we could love Christmas the way we understood it from a cul-de-sac but somewhere between the Heartland and Midtown we were robbed of it and feel only a prickly angst for no longer understanding its worth. He isn't degrading it, he's mourning it like the rest of us. It isn't 'less', its just left behind.
There is so much more to say here, about this readable novel and its insanely flawed characters. But I've been trying to write it all down for three days and maybe we should just discuss it over dinner, wanna? Let's go to Denise's new restaurant on Smith Street and do just that.
NOW, onto Great House. Get excited.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
I read an article in National Geographic during the fall of 2001 called 'The Color'. I've been trying to find it online for the past 2 days, like an absolute crazy person, and I guess I've come to the conclusion that it just isn't there. Upsetting, to say the least. (I can even remember the first three sentences of that article. Come on, Google! Help a girl out.)
But the point is this. 'The Color' is peaking right now all over New England. I sat awake on a northbound bus last weekend at dusk, mesmerized by the sharp reds, the deep oranges, the shifting yellows. And it isn't just the leaves that peak, that's the thing! There is something in the air causing the shift, if only I had the article to explain the science to you all. The light that passes through the clouds each October is at such a perfect pitch that it saturates the color of everything you see. The bricks! The trees! That water! Your silly preppy socks!
I drank in that Color this weekend in Cambridge, Massachusetts while visiting a dear friend at Harvard. We scurried from brunch to the big rowing race to The Purple Shamrock with lots of hot coffee and intermittent giggling.
Pay attention right now, New Yorkers. Get out of town or get thee to Central Park. The Color will eventually fade into soft December and you don't want to miss it.