Culture: May 2002 Archives

There's a nice essay in Salon on the new Tom Waits CDs I just bought - Alice and Blood Money.

Alice is from a musical theatre work created by Robert Wilson and my friend, the brilliant Paul Schmidt -- his Chekhov translations are highly recommended.

Blood Money is based on Buechner's Woyzeck.

The Axum Obelisk, brought from Ethiopia to Rome by Mussolini's soldiers, was damaged by lightning yesterday. The CNN story has a picture. There's more on the history of the obelisk here.

My friend Charles Goldman (no link -- I'm not done working on his web site) has a nice review in the SF Chronicle of his show in Berkeley. Check out the images.

I've seen the Distance Paintings in person. They're beautiful.

... looking for "new talent". The Art Newspaper has a pretty good article on the search for hot/new/young artists. It quotes one of my favorite "art world" people -- Zach Feuer from LFL Gallery. I didn't know he was only 23!

I went to an opening tonight at K.S. Art of a cool show curated by David Humphrey. This piece -- lost my slip of paper with the artist's name -- is a chocolate cake, to be eaten at the opening:

crisco cake

That was my problem -- expecting all that highbrow stuff -- a script, acting, etc.

I forgot to mention another artist we liked at the Scope Art show (see this): Paul Mullins from Lyons Wier Gallery.


Go see The Sandman at Target Margin. David Herskovits and his merry team have done a great job with this Opera-meets-Downtown-Theatre work, with music by Tom Cabaniss. It's in a cool little opera house-like theatre in the East Village. Check out the review in this week's Time Out NY. I think it's a better review than this one in the Village Voice.

As part of the Nancy Hwang birthday extravaganza, I saw Episode II: Attack of the Clones last night. Ugh -- it was worse than I expected. Natalie Portman's a trooper for trying to act like this was a "real movie with acting" while saying some of the worst lines in movie history. It made the 3 good ones (now known as Episodes 4-6) look like Shakespeare. My friend Anees was right - it was like Star Wars Porn -- all the stuff you like to see, over and over and over. All money shots, all the time!

Whenever there were "plot" interludes, such as the scenes of the budding romance between Natalie and whoever that guy is, the audience snickered until we got back to the light sabers and special effects.

I miss Princess Leia.

On Sunday we went to brunch - which one was the mother? - at The Park with our friend Brownie, followed by a visit to Scope Art at the Gershwin Hotel. No celebrities were spotted at The Park. The food wasn't bad, and is surprisingly cheap at brunch/lunch time. If service is going to be that bad, shouldn't all of the waiters look like models? (They don't.)

Scope Art was great fun! Sort of like the Gramercy Art Fair at the beginning -- nicely low key. There were a number of interesting out of town galleries -- without websites to link! I was pleased by the amount of drawing and painting on display. It's not dead!

There's a very interesting gallery in Cleveland of all places called Shaheen showing people ranging from Roe Ethridge to Blake Rayne.

Others things of note: Stuart Hawkins from Priska Juschka and a show called "Amenities" curated by Pascal Spengemann -- an entire room of works by artists replacing or working with the objects in the room -- a painting in the Gideon Bible (Ben Potter), toilet paper of handmade paper from utility bills (Missy Bly), and casts of vacuumings from the hotel (Corin Hewitt).

I've been having some computer issues for the last week, so this is a big catch-up post.

On Saturday we went to some galleries in Chelsea. Highlights:

  • Brian Coleman and Molly Smith at LFL Gallery -- Molly's gouache and ink works on paper are especially beautiful.

  • Katarzyna Kozyra at Postmasters -- pretty Polish boys in videos

  • Polly Apfelbaum and Beatriz Milhazes at D'Amelio Terras

  • David Reed at Max Protech -- hmm... takes me to some kind of hydraulics company

  • Jim Hodges at CRG -- Wow! One of the best shows I've seen in Chelsea in a while

  • John F. Simon, Jr. at Sandra Gering

More to follow about Scope Art, etc.

Here's a disturbing but interesting 13 minute video by Christoph Draeger, Reynold Reynolds, and Gary Breslin. It stars Guy Richard Smit. The premise: the final newscast of MSNBC.

Actual photos from the 1848 uprising in Paris - barricades and all! See it on James' site.

Hmm... Should this be filed under culture or queer? It's one of those high/low art kind of things.

Last night we saw Jonny McGovern, Gay Pimp Daddy/International Gay Teen Pop Superstar, at PS122. We took James's nephew Peter - the gay psychriatrist nephew - and his friend John. It was great fun, with Jonny and his backup dancers (including one Abercrombie and Fitch model), plus two fabulous draq queens. I think my favorite song was "Hey, Little Raver Boi". The choreography, by Jonny, Kimmarie Lynch, and Christopher Campell, was hilarious -- trashy queer boy band dancing. The costumes for "Raver Boi" included light sticks, visors, and bell bottoms of course.

It lasts until May 12. Worth a visit I think. The crowd was an interesting mix, including straight boys and their girlfriends. The girls really screamed for the songs about Jonny seducing straight boys. This post-straight world is very interesting.

We had dinner afterward at my favorite East Village restaurant, Raga -- Indian fusion, not really Indian, one block east of the glitter of the 6th Street Little India.

Side note. Abercrombie's web site has a music page, including a streaming station? How's this for an album description:

Camber attacks with buzzing guitars desperately hung over a rock solid backbeat.

I just love hung over guitars.

Last night we went to the opening for 3 shows at Art Resources Transfer -- Jonathan Feldschuh, Merrill Wagner, and M. Sovan Kumar. Jonathan also has a show at Cynthia Broan right now. The pottery installation by Kuman is really beautiful, and I LOVED the Merill Wagner works. She rocks, as usual.

After the opening we saw Blue Surge, by Rebecca Gilman, at the Public Theater. Info on the production in Chicago at the Goodman is available here and here. It seems to be mostly the same cast, and the same director as that production. She has a reputation for writing plays that are a bit didactic, and have their hearts in the right place, but don't necessarily work as theatre. This is the first play of hers I've seen, and I have to agree.

I think the direction by Robert Falls, and the cast, outshined the play. The cast was uniformly excellent. Rachel Miner was totally convincing as a young woman still in her teens who realizes that working in the local "massage parlor" makes more sense for her than working at Wendy's. Joe Murphy plays a cop trying to "escape" his background and make something of himself, with Amy Landecker as his middle class artist girlfriend. The other two actors, Steve Key as a goofy, slacker cop, and Colleen Werthmann (member of Elevator Repair Service) as another hooker, are also awesome. We spoke to Key afterwards to tell him how much we enjoyed it.

The play has its moments, I will admit. The scene between Beth (upwardly mobile) and her boyfriend Curt (who isn't) is really strong. All of us that came from small, poor towns where most people have dead end jobs and drink too much would find a lot that's familiar in that scene. He wonders if she stays with him to shock her artist friends, and she's disappointed that he's not more successful. After all, she says, anyone who is smart enough and tries hard enough can "make it" in America. I would like to think that, and I'm lucky to be where I am now compared to where I came from, but I don't think that's the way the world works for most people. I went to a high school where most people didn't think of going to college, and thought it was frivolous to do so. I'm glad I escaped, but I can't really say that I'm "better" than the people who are still there. I'm lucky.

My goodness! John Leo, wacko right-wing columnist for the Daily News, says One vote here in favor of the blogging revolution. Thanks to Andy for the link.

I didn't know Tom Tomorrow had a blog! I love him, and read his cartoons (excuse the expression) religiously. James and I met him at a Ralph Nader fundraiser in 2000. That was a great event, at a private home, where we also met Patti Smith, Michael Moore, and Susan Sarandon. We talked with Susan about ACT UP demos we all attended.

Leo also mentions The Daily Howler, which I will have to add to my list of daily blog viewings.

We saw Naharin's Virus by the Batsheva Dance Company last night at BAM -- Fabulous, theatrical work and brilliant dancing by a beautiful international troupe of dancers. It's a collaboration from the outspokenly political (and anti-war) choreographer Ohad Naharin and the Arab Palestinian musician Habib Allah Jamal, and uses the text of Peter Handke's Offending The Audience. There was an amazing lightness, and animal energy, to the movements. I think the NY Times review is pretty good.

There was a Q&A with Naharin in the Times also, but it doesn't show up in the archives. But thanks to the magic of Google, here it is.

You know, I'm very informed about what's going on. And I have very clear opinions. Right now, there's a real clash between my politics and my country's politics. It's very tragic what is going on because it's obvious that eventually there will be one of two possibilities: total disaster in the region or a big compromise and peace treaty. So, if we don't want to choose the total disaster, then it will be a peace treaty. And if the peace treaty, why wait? Why make all these mistakes? Why not just compromise now?

Obviously there are millions of people in this region who don't particularly wish well for us. But the present acts of the Sharon government don't make it safer. It's not a government that seeks negotiations. It's a government that has an illusion of power. And that's something that interests me.

I think a lot of people in Israel live in an illusion, and that Sharon has infected a lot of people with his phobia. The phobia is really a lack of guilt. It's blaming everybody but yourself. It actually causes you to lose any kind of sensitivity to the suffering of other people. And it's kind of a chronic thing. That's the illusion that I'm talking about. So maybe what I'm trying a little bit to evoke an awareness, just the ability to look at ourselves from a little bit of distance and perspective.

The crowd was a very interesting mix, with sexy Israelis, NYC arty people -- Jackie Hoffman was in my row, and families with children. There was a smart Jewish family in front of me -- mom, dad, and two young daughters -- who seemed to get a kick out of the section where a young woman tells her mother, on the day of her Bat Mitzvah, "God is an invention, just like pizza."

We had to go through metal detectors to enter BAM, and one of the security guards told James that he liked his anti-war button. James told him he would give him one if he would wear it, and he said, "certainly!" James always carries extras for such an occasion, and recently gave one to a man walking with a rescue dog in midtown.

Last night we saw John Guare's A Few Stout Individuals at Signature Theatre Company. While not a perfect play (the ending seems to peter out), it's a very clever rumination on history, and has one of the best casts I've even seen in a play. I think he was trying to reach for more surrealism than he was able to pull off -- maybe he's afraid of confusing the kind of audience he has now. I didn't find it particularly unusual as a play, but the generally 60ish crowd around me all talked about how "weird" it was.

It's a huge cast (13 actors) and is very well directed. The standouts included Polly Holliday, Donald Moffat, and William Sadler as a perfect Samuel Clemens. I felt like Mark Twain had returned from the dead. The woman who played the great diva Adelina Patti (Cheryl Evans) was a real opera singer -- I saw her in Akhnaten a couple of years ago in Boston. James Yaegashi was quite dashing as The Emperor of Japan.

I had never seen Donald Moffat on stage -- he has a great presence as a physical actor and made a believable U.S. Grant at the end of his life.

The title comes from a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: "all history resolves itself very easily into the biography of a few stout and earnest persons".

You can get cheaper tickets right now while it's in previews. For my impoverished actor/artist friends, I recommend calling to see if you can usher/volunteer to see it. I think it's worth seeing just for the cast.

One more thing: The actress playing the Empress of Japan, Michi Barall, kept looking at James and me as if she knew or recognized us; we were in the front row. Hmm... other than in plays, do I know her?

We saw Dennis Cleveland last night. This is the excellent opera -- but not a Puccini-type opera -- by Mikel Rouse that many of my friends have heard me rave about after it was done at The Kitchen a few years ago. Here's more info including a link to a video clip. I don't think the sound is that great on the video clip.

I think I liked it more at The Kitchen -- cooler crowd than at something sponsored by Lincoln center, but I still highly recommend going. You're not going to see a work like this very often.

Here are a couple of MP3s from the CD:

Soul Train
Beautiful Murders

Read the page for my friend Misa's Fragile Art project. Maybe you've seen the posters like this on the streets?

Here are some locations from her most recent e-mail update:

  • 14 St (btw Broadway & 7 St, south & north sides of sidewalk's light poles)
  • University Place (close to 14 St)
  • University Place & 8 St
  • Williamsburg (Bedford Ave, btw N7 St & Grand St)
  • Brooklyn Museum, construction board
  • Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn (Fulton St, btw Washington Ave & New York Ave)
  • Soho/ Wooster St (btw Houston St & Canal St)
  • Greene St (btw Houston St & Broome St)
  • Broadway W btw 116 st & 71 St (east sidewalk

A Clinton talk show may be in the works...

This page is an archive of entries in the Culture category from May 2002.

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