Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Our Town? Yes.

See Our Town. Go online right now and get tickets.

Then, once you have the tickets and if you don’t live within driving distance of New York, buy your plane tickets.

I know. Our Town? Really? I must be kidding, right? That hoary chestnut?

The one.

The genius here, as directed by David Cromer, is a smartness and a sadness colluding into some sort of spiritual ecstasy. Again, not kidding.

At the very end of the play, one of the lines, and I paraphrase, is, “People live their lives without really seeing.” --I imagine David Cromer used this as the full metal spine for this particular back.

There is a sense in Act I of people living their lives, kindly, in a turn-of-the-last-century White Yankee New Hampshire Republicanism—while awaiting execution.

Act II, as you know, is all about the wedding. And it is not joyful. It is cause for hysterics. Oh that Mrs. Soames. (Order your tickets. Our Town)

Of course, Act III is the dead in the cemetery. But in this production, when Emily goes to visit her twelfth birthday---well, I can’t tell you! It was such a surprise. I just, I can’t say.

This was, certainly, a brave, fantastic production. And the actors, well, these New York stage actors are the best. It’s true. They are.

Get your tickets. Our Town keeps getting extended and I bet it will end up in some bigger venue (possibly ruined). See it downtown at the Barrow Street Theatre.

Tickets, Here:

Our Town

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Sinful Fish Tale

When I was a wee kid, I went to elementary school in Spring Valley, New York which was a great town of Jews. We got off for the major holidays, naturally.

It was always such a treat. You start school right after Labor Day and within a few weeks, there are days off!

And now for the fish (and since William Safire is dead, this is my wee homage to him).

Word Play: The atonement will arrive with fins!

I heard of Yom Kippur long before I heard of a kipper. But once I did learn of kippers, well, my mind immediately played that little trick where you start to think of kippers every time someone starts to atone.

So, here’s to Yom Kipper! (And, they used to pronounce it that way back in Spring Valley. And William Safire—what’s in a word?)

I hope everyone has looked inside their sinning selves and has taken note and figured out how to be better people from now on. Yahweh knows, we need it! And then, well, we will all feel lighter and have a better time. To all my Jews and non-Jews alike: Enjoy the kippers!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Everyone Is Dead But I Feel So Alive

My sister turned to me last weekend when I was jumping up in down in joyous approval of this Northeastern Autumn air and said, “The weather is really a mood driver.”

She’s so right! Some people get depressed by dark winters. Not me. I get so cozy, so gemutliegkeit, I almost turn into a Hummel. Fall is so wonderful, you just want to be outside hugging the trees, in ecstasy.

Spring is hopeful and sexy. Just ask anyone.

And then, well, then there’s summer. And that’s when it gets dark for me. Being hot all the time. No thank you. Summers are made for wretches, mechanics and lunatics. I feel off in the summer and I think about all my relatives who are dead in the summer. I think about lonely, hot apartments and relatives that have expired, alone, in the summer. And it just seems so depressing.

But then, the weather gets better and all the relatives are still dead, but I feel so alive.

“The weather really is a mood driver.”

Thursday, September 24, 2009

It's All About Movement

You sit in these New York apartments like veal…and every day, you think, “I GOT TO GET OUT OF HERE!” So you hit the streets for hours at a time. Mostly eating.

Movement becomes very important here.

And with that, I give you these two clips. Because, you know, they’re great.

Chinese Bicycle Acrobatics

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sand Animation? Yes

Maybe this is old news, but we interrupt this Wednesday to bring you UKRAINE'S GOT TALENT!

This is one of those things, like, if you've never had your country invaded, you might not get it...in sand animation.

But, there's something about this thing.

Thanks Sarah.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I Aspire

The coolest man on earth, on Letterman.

How does he remain so calm? So funny? So smart?

And black, too? Wink.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Manhattan: Land of the Beaver

When in New York, I highly recommend Mannahatta at the Museum of the City of New York.

It ends October 12.

Look, even if you don’t care that Manhattan was once a huge beaver pond with over a hundred streams and 23 micro climates, you should go just to see the cool 3-D relief map that has images projected upon it. They show where the Lenape camps were, all the streams, the huge ridges and the valleys. Manhattan really once was a beaver-infested garden of eden! (I bet there was a mosquito or two, too.) This land-o-islands-in-the-harbor is where the Arctic meets the sub-tropics.

Sort of.

So—go. It’s very cool. If you are at all interested in the earth-island upon which New York was built upon. What a difference four-hundred years makes.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

No Public Option

The Baucus Bill has no public option. But it does have the odd not-for-profit Coops…which, let’s face it, are sort of like the public option, but let’s face it, too, not really.

But let’s not get all stuck on one thing.

The deal is---if BY LAW an insurance company is not allowed to turn anyone away and must continue to pay out no matter how sick someone gets, well, I am all for it.

Bring it on Baucus!

Have you ever been to his home state of Montana? Beautiful place. Almost no one lives there. Worth the trip.

Come on Health Care!

You now Senator Snowe from Maine is going to sign on.

Montana and Maine, figuring in large. It takes people from really cold places to understand the need for communal action.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Twelve and a Half Percent

Reports, reports, reports. The recession is over, but it’s a jobless one, with 40 Million people living below the poverty line. Etc.

Funny, since I was a kid, the approximate number of poor people in our country has been 12.5% of the population.

I am a mathy type. So, I think about this and I ask the question, “Have we collectively decided that in order to be the richest country on earth, we need about one out of every eight people to be poor, to remind us to work even harder? Or steal even harder?”

Look---when it comes to money and the allocation of goods, you have to look at it in terms of math---and how you end up with that math. Human nature is at the bottom of it. We are a punitive bunch of beasts. “You’re kind of lazy and stupid? DIE!” “You have emotional problems and you weren’t raised right? DIE!” “You are a low skilled person? DIE!” “You snuck into our country illegally---DIE!”

And though it seems a little over the top and drama-queenish to type DIE! four times, with exclamation points…it is, really, what we are choosing for others. Their death. Because living in a crappy hole of a place (or no place of your own at all) next to an industrial slurry pit, with diseases breaking out all over your body, and no way to take care of it---well, that’s a death sentence. Surely, the poorer you are, the sooner you die. This is a fact.

So, we sentence to death poor people. Is this a natural culling? And if so, then should we not admit it? And if so, should we not also assume that these poor people, if we never help them, should not, naturally, rise up and help themselves? By force, if they must? I know I would.

Or is it a choice? Is it really a choice? Come on.

No baby born on earth asks to be raised next to a mountain of zinc tailings. No little child on earth asks for incest. No teenager asks for abuse and hunger and a lack of decent education. No adult asks for misery. For some people---it’s just the luck of the draw.

Me? I pulled a good card. What the hell do I care?

I do. I don’t know why I care. I mean---I don’t volunteer. I do vote for liberal candidates. I don’t send much money to charity. I do vote for higher taxes and programs for education and wealth redistribution.

Yes. Redistribute it. Why the hell not?
What do you really need?

12.5% That’s a lot of people. 21% is probably enough for a revolution. But 12.5%--- maybe not quite enough---just math. And maybe, 12.5% is the magic number---where you can actually control that many people with a certain size of police and a certain heft of prisons—and things work. And people are fine with it. Somehow, that 12.5% is fine.

I wonder why. Seems like a big number to me.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

We All Love Our Bloggy Pudding

So---with Christmas approaching, sort of, I wanted to get a jump start on my list.

I only want two things, my elfin pals.

ONE Stop this damn recession. People have had enough. Jobs. Clean Green Good Ones.

TWO Health Care Reform that includes The Public Option. Bush Lied about Iraq. Obama is lying about The Public Option (Come on---if we have a Public Option---it won't be 5% that joins it. It will be 95%). Give me it. Every president gets one big lie. Health care, now.

That's it. Two things. It's only September 16. There's time to pull it together!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Helios Studio Plug


From my friend, who has launched a fabulous new career, as people do (and I can get super vouchy about this. She’s great.):

After a long and fulfilling career in the music industry, I (Stacie Negas) have partnered with Gavin Jones at Helios Studio as a photo retoucher. Since leaving the music industry, I have been studying Photoshop and was fortunate enough to train with the very talented Gavin Jones, who perfected his skills while working with renowned photographer Dahlin. My experience working with designers and photographers on countless projects throughout my music career has provided me with ample experience to make the transition into photo retouching.
Helios Studio is a hands-on operation that brings a creative eye to the process along with competitive rates and the highest quality work, while always meeting your deadlines. We are a post-production photographic studio specializing in beauty, advertising, fashion and product retouching.
If you have any need of our services, please contact us.

From Don again: THIS IS MY FRIEND who worked closely with Bono and a whole lot of other musicians over the years, making sure their CD packaging was stellar. So, you know, if she’s good enough for Bono, maybe she’s good enough for you. Get your stuff retouched.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

St. Teresa. But Which One?

Posted by Picasa

We took our usual Sunday neighborhood crawl. We pick an area to see in New York, get on some shoes, and take a good 8 mile walk.

Today, we did a C shaped tour of Carroll Gardens, Gowanus, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Fort Greene in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn is confusing. You kind of think you really want to live there because there are these extremely beautiful neighborhoods and some of these neighborhoods have the sweetest stores and restaurants. But then, it all looks a little bit like Downtown Disney and you want to, maybe, run.

Carroll Gardens, an old Italian neighborhood, is now incredibly gentrified. We ran into a parade today. The Saint Day parade of Saint Teresa. It was like something out of deep Sicily. We saw the saint statue coming down the road and I asked one of the old Italian lady paraders (matching in all black with a gold sash like all the others) which saint this parade was for--she responded, happily, with a big smile, "Teresa."

I went to Wikipedia. Apparently, there are six Saint Teresa's, so I have no idea which one this parade was for. But, these old Italian people, they want their saints, their traditions, their parades.

I find Brooklyn confusing, but mostly because I haven't lived in New York and was not around to watch it happen. The transformation. It is sort of fantastic that Brooklyn has been so violently gentrified. It is understandable. The housing stock is past charming. It is romantic and beautiful, practically Southern and Gothic. So, of course, the world moved in.

But, frankly, it's too South for me. I want to be able to escape to Canada, if necessary.

The Gowanus is going to be the next thing. It is going to be like the 10th arrondissement in Paris, with it's barge canal, all industrial-turned-arty. You can see it about to happen. And YOU WANT neighborhoods to get safer, better, richer, with better food and stores and to be colorful and delicious and well maintained. And then it happens. And then you get a little sad about it.

Because it's a kind of sameness. A wine bar, cheese store, gourment burger kind of, Northern Italian cuisine, Asian fusion kind of sameness and you have to ask yourself, "Is it really all about ME and MY comfort?"

Or something. And forget the strollers. As targets, they are too easy. But too big, too. I mean, these babies come at you like Cadillacs on the sidewalk. You just don’t know if you are going to survive. But at the last minute, they swerve.

But man, o-fancy man-o , S. Portland Street in Fort Greene. It is the most beautiful place on earth. Just go there. The trees. The parlor floors with their original stamped and decorated ceilings. The lights. The whole thing. Dark and light, at once.

But back to Carroll Gardens. I am struck by the Italians In Carroll Gardens. Being half Italian, but never really caring too much about it, even feeling alienated from it as my family did everything they could to become "American", it was quite something to see these old Italians in the streets with their idoltry Saint I-Don't-Know-Which-One-Teresa, a drum beating, and everyone marching along, oddly miedeval, with the statue up high. It was joyful, sure, for them. But to me, it was also sort of scary and pagan and irrational.

These must be Sicilians.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Stormy Weather

In order to maintain my high spirits on this eight year anniversary of the collapse of innocence in the Western Hemisphere, I have decided to focus on one of the great things that I love about the natural world: The weather.

I was a frogs-tornadoes-streams kind of kid. And maps. I like the outdoors. And lucky for me, I am living in a place in New York that has a lot of air and trees: bulky Queens. Tonight, a Noreaster is blowing and teasing. You have to love them. They feel like real local weather coming in, as opposed to the blanket of strange happenings that blow over us from the West.

Though my windows are wide open to let in the breeze, I still wanted context and narrative, so I went to The Weather Channel online because, you know, I wanted to see a swirly map. AND GUESS WHAT? Frank Batten is DEAD!

You don’t know who Frank Batten is? Neither did I. He is the founder of The Weather Channel—the great cable TV upstart of 1982.

Thanks for everything, Frank. I love that I can type in a zip code or a city with the state and find out what the hell is going on. Cats and Dogs? Dry wild fires? Snow on the heath?

Of course, I can just look out the window, which I do. But mostly, when I want to know the outside temperature (for coat reasons), I look it up online on your channel and I feel like I help the environment by NOT buying a thermometer with all that scary mercury in it. Plus, I find interesting, newsy tidbits about the earth's natural (or unnatural at this point) state.

Frank---here’s the forecast: Chance of cold death, with no possible jet stream of return. Hope it feels like a May Day in Southern California. Thanks for The Weather Channel. Dorks like me, we can’t get enough of it. Also, sounds like you were greatly admired. Congratulations on the weather empire. What a great business idea. Weather never goes away and it’s always interesting. Everyone DOESN'T necessarily know it's Windy.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

He Lies?

Funny, the news is obsessed with Joe Wilson, Republican from a Carolina, who yelled out, YOU LIE! after President Obama said the new laws would not cover illegal immigrants.

People (TV) likes a fight.

Of all the things that came out of Obama’s speech, what does the media focus on?

Some over emotional idiot, yelling out like he’s in the Sixth grade.

The pushers of news just want you to look at the fight. It is disgusting.

Obama’s speech was brilliant. Was all of it true? I have no idea. I still hold that having a public option WILL do exactly what the Republicans fear---people will run to it like Wilma and Betty in The Flintstones with charge cards, decimating private insurance.

But who can blame them? It is one thing to let the invisible hand of the market take care of bicycle sales and toothpaste. But for your liver? Or your tumor? The market? For that? Are you tired old white people insane?

President B. Obama was wise to conjure the spirit Ted Kennedy. You could feel our recently departed, beloved senator’s compassion and moral standing in the room. Is it called the Ted Kennedy bill? It should be.

I do not understand Republicans who sit, all grumpy, against progress. It all looks like greed to me. If you regulate an industry, you diminish its power to concentrate cash, which is just terrifying to the piggies. But WHY oh WHY do these people think it is a good idea to send so much cash toward one industry? Okay, they know this is not a good thing. But then, why do they not come up with any solutions other than obstructionism? Fearful. Goodbye to them. They are to be ignored.

It feels like the momentum for healthcare reform is there and something will happen, soon. Obama leads. He leads as a smart, measured guy with real humanity. Is this thing all hammered out? Obviously not. But it is getting there. And I will say it again: I am ALL FOR the public option---I hate insurance companies—been denied too many times for a preexisting condition (allergy shots, my friends) and I will gladly join the ranks of the rank and file for low budget Post Office style national insurance so the monthly shots I get will not be followed by the ritual I currently face after each visit: three phone calls. One, returning the doctor’s office call about my denied eligibility. Two, calling the eligibility department to tell them to flip the switch, ‘cause my Cobra is all paid up. Then, three, the claims department, after the bill arrives, telling them to reprocess. All this? What a colossal waste of time. Give me the post office. I know the line is long. But I know once I get through the line, the package is on its way to Duluth and I NEVER have to hear about it again.

Big question---why four years? One hopes, when it comes to a time frame, Obama is under promising and will over deliver. I want my public option insurance next Tuesday!

Congratulations, President Obama. You did what is needed. Now, keep fighting like a dog. A mean dog. Please.

It's Obama Eve!

I am excited. The leader of the free world (a fine salesman) is about to get in our faces and tell us what is good for us. I'm clearly on board.

I would like the Public Option. I really would.

Imagine? Anyone can slide into the Public Option at anytime and get their shit fixed!

Sounds sane to me.

Monday, September 07, 2009


Finally saw HAIR this weekend for my Recognized-by-the-State-of-California-Domestic-Partner, Adam’s birthday. All that hair, and I still can’t get married in the state of New York or California?

Woodstock, Monterey, you name it. Be-IN, Love-IN, Freedom, Happiness?

Okay, to the play. I love the music. I do. And the play, basically, is about a bunch of kids who want to be kids and don’t want to go to war to get killed. And who can blame them? WHAT ON EARTH WAS VIETNAM? I mean, really. When I was a kid, it was just a strange word. Hippies were everywhere. My cousin who was living with us in the suburbs of New York did come back from Woodstock covered with mud in her green Volkswagon. So the lore goes.

The cast of HAIR was sublime. One of the great things about overpopulation is it does create more and more talented people who have to compete even harder for fewer spots on earth. By the time someone gets to sing on Broadway, they have completely risen past the ranks of the medium good, the very good, and the best. It’s quite something.

Directed by Diane Paulus (I’m a big fan), this play was a big romp, the cast in the audience, clothes off at intermission, hippie vaudeville, great movement, solid humor, and the singing, as I’ve said.

For me, the show was pretty much about golden voiced Gavin Creel. I would say this is because I am a letch, if I thought Gavin was still a kid…but of course, like most musicals, the kids are being played by full blown adults. This is something I don’t love. Mostly because a younger cast might still be full of rage and piss. Older professionals, you can tell they are pounding through their careers and this is one of their stops along the way. Tant pis pour eux! We get to enjoy their talent. And, well, if they do look like current day well-taken-care-of American kids---it’s not their fault. I do wonder, though, if they really get what they’re doing. I bet the old folks of the Seventeenth Century probably thought the Hamlet of 1660 was just not that authentic.

The music of Galt MacDermot is the star here. It is one amazing song after another, as we all know. I especially like the long pieces in Act 2 from Black Boys to White Boys to Walking in Space all the way through Ain’t Got No.

I remember my Uncle Gene had the record when I was a kid and my parents wouldn’t let me listen to it. In college, I was cast in the play which was performed at Harvard’s Kennedy Center---I dropped out because it was pretty silly and shoddy (with an updated script by a student---making most of the action all flashback. Songs cut, etc.) Then as a youngster in New York---I was cast in a European tour…as the understudy of Berger, during the Christmas break. I didn’t do it. How can I be away from my American Christians at Christmas? Alas, I was never in the play and have contented myself with banging the songs out on the piano for years on end.

If you come to New York and you want to hear some amazing music in a sharp, polished production, head on over to HAIR. It’s solid.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Many Ways to Strap it On

In our black and white thinking world of the United States, everything ends up a simple face off. Sunday Football. Old Westerns. Right and Left. HealthCare fights.

What is so terribly sad is the culture of constant combat in this country.

Obama is a smart man and he is fighting, because he has to. And there’s a part of me that wants to shriek, “Strap it on, man. Give it the hero’s rhetoric and run with it. And mow down the opposition.”

And you know what? He might be doing that in his way. Sometimes, when everyone gets real loud, it’s the quiet one gets things done.

It will be interesting to hear the address next week.

I understand it is a combination of a certain brain tendency mixed with brain conditioning, but I have such a hard time accepting the fear-of-change radicalism of conservatives. They seem like little babies, terrified of I don’t know what.

We all know that reasoning is useless. And trying to get at their compassionate side has proven to be futile, too. We just have to bomb past them. At this point, they must be ignored.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Queens is

The Borough of Sports and Travel.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Do NOT Run for the Hills! & Some Religion

Posted by Picasa

Thank you, Ramona, for this picture.

Los Angeles--come on now. Bring it down.

People invented religion because they were impatient.