Culture: October 2002 Archives
Two nights ago we saw "Woyzeck" by Tom Waits, Kathleen Brennan, and Robert Wilson at BAM.
The music is amazing. Tom Waits's music at this point is that of a new Kurt Weill, and I mean Weill at his best. We were sitting on the front row, so it was fun to be able to watch the small orchestra as it played. The lyrics (created by him and his wife Kathleen Brennan) are brilliant. They never choose the clichéd or obvious word in a phrase. In "Coney Island Baby":
Every night she comes To take me out to dreamland When I'm with her, I'm the richest Man in the town
I almost expected the phrase to be "the richest man in the world", but "town" works so much better.
Some other favorites from various songs:
The plural of spouse is spice.
God's Away, God's away
God's away on Business. Business.
She's a rose, she's the pearl
She's the spin on my world
All the stars make their wishes on her eyes
I'm not crazy about Robert Wilson. I think he has some good ideas and things are often attractive, but he's in a rut. His style hasn't changed much over the last ten years, and there are certain gestures -- such as a spotlight only on a character's hand -- that have become rote. There were however, a few fabulous moments. When Marie and the Drum Major have their first big scene together, at one point she is singing "Everything Goes to Hell":
I don't like dirty dishes in the sink. Please don't tell me what you feel or what you think.
and she sits on his back as he crawls across the floor on all fours. It's hard to describe well, but the audience burst into spontaneous applause before it was completely over.
Anyone who has seen images of Wieland Wagner's [framed site - hit cancel if asked] productions at Bayreuth can realize that Wilson is not as much as an innovator, in terms of visuals, as many people think.
At the reception afterward we talked with our friends Charles and Ray, fellow BAM-ites not to be confused with the artist Charles Ray, and looked at the celebrities: Isabella Rossellini, and Russian gay activist/poet/porn star Slava. James has some good links for him.
Many of the songs from "Woyzeck" are available on Tom Waits's "Blood Money" CD. I talk about that CD plus his "Alice" -- both highly recommended -- here.
Later today I will add a couple of MP3s from "Blood Money" and "Alice".
We went to Williamsburg this afternoon to see our friend Meighan Gale's show at Black & White Gallery, on its last day. If you like what you see on the web site, you can call the gallery to see the work. I saw some paintings from the next show, by Lael Marshall, that looked promising.
Bjørn Melhus at Roebling Hall: fabulous video show, with my favorite work (titled "Oral Fixation") being a weird talk show, with all of the dialogue sampled from actual shows.
I also saw this solar-powered peace sign, a project of Think Global Peace.
We walked around for quite a few hours today, going to Chelsea galleries. It's hard to link, since a lot of galleries AREN'T BEING VERY WEB SAVVY. I need to get my planned galllery and artist web site hosting company off the ground soon. The first client (an artist) will go live soon -- I'll let you know when.
Recommendations, in no particular order:
Rob Fischer and Conrad Ventur (2 separate shows) at Elizabeth Dee Gallery
Gustave Kluge at Klemens Gasser & Tanja Grunert
David Schrigley at Anton Kern
Kiniko Ivic at Andrew Kreps -- Grrreat!
James has a more comprehensive list of what we liked today.
It's definitely worth a visit -- one of the best group shows I've seen lately. Favorites: Alejandro Cesarco's film of people playing scrabble, spelling out his influences (from Baudrillard to Leonard Cohen), Chico MacMurtrie's big robotic monkey, and of course Maria Alos's Manhattan project, since James and I were in the group of models:
Eric Doeringer's latest project is cool. I just added to my Eric Doeringer collection here at the Barry and James abode.
I still have this flu-like thing going, but I went for a few hours to this DUMBO festival. It was pretty cool, and there were a HUGE number of people there. I think DUMBO is already becoming Williamsburg-esque.
Nina Levy sculptures at Metaphor
I might not post much for a little bit. I think I have the flu, or at least something unpleasant with a cough.
We saw a reading of a new screenplay called "Adam and Steve" tonight, written by Craig Chester, at Fez. The cast included Ileana Douglas, Nora Burns, Mike Albo, and Bryan Batt. It also featured the Dazzle Dancers. I half expected to see Dan'l there. It was very funny, and the cast really got into it.
Two favorite moments:
Two men go into a store in Chelsea, looking to buy a ring. The salesman asks, "Nipple, cock, pride, or finger?"
When asked what it was like to be in the city on 9/11, someone responds, "Oh, you know. The sky was all purple, there were people running everywhere."
I once had Craig Chester as a waiter for Florent's big Bastille Day celebration outside on Gansevoort Street. This was after Swoon, not before, and he said he was helping out a friend for the day. I remember this was the year that there were a lot of protests over the French resuming nuclear testing in the South Pacific. Chi Chi Valenti, during her performance, unfolded a big sign that said, "STOP FRENCH BOMBS!" The crowd went wild.
We braved the rain to go to a few shows today, and I strongly recommend two of them:
- Christoph Schmidberger at Nikolai Fine Art (through the end of the month)
- Ray Johnson at Feigen (also through the end of the month)
The Johnson show had me thinking about whether I could sell something to buy one. Also, go see the movie about him at the Film Forum.
Speaking of Ms. Keaton, I recently watched Manhattan for the first time since I moved to NYC in 1989. It's such a wonderful appreciation of New York. Now that I've lived here for years, I recognize so much, and I know where they are when they're in that gallery building on West Broadway where Castelli, Sonnabend, etc. were located. I would not have laughed as much at the "oh, you liked that?" conversation when Diane Keaton first appears. I don't think I knew who Diane Arbus even was when I first saw it. I still remember laughing at the angst over pronouncing "Van Gogh" when I first saw it in college.
Let's talk about art for a bit, rather than politics. The Guardian has an amusing Web Guide to Tracey Emin, a/k/a 'Mad Tracey from Margate'.
"Make it personal, tell the truth and then write 'Burn this' on the bottom."
We saw Burn This last night, and it was awesome. I've been going to Signature Theatre for years, and this was not the typical crowd for one of their plays. This was much more like a Broadway audience, and believe me that's not a compliment: plenty of scary suburban New York Magazine types. It was a gayer crowd than usual, but I suspect that was as much a function of having Ed Norton in it (who was great despite someone's opinion of him), rather than the fact that it was a gay-themed play by a great playwright. I don't typically see that many pretty, blank Chelsea boys at a serious play -- perhaps they were brought as arm candy by more serious playgoers. I much prefer smart pretty boys.
I first saw Ed Norton in 1994, in the world premiere of Eward Albee's "Fragments" at Signature. I still remember how he looked and talked, and not just because he was hot. Apparently this was Catherine Keener's stage debut, and she was excellent, with a great presence on stage. I would not have guessed that she had concentrated only on film before. I've only seen her in one movie, "Being John Malkovich". Given that Mr. Malkovich played the Ed Norton role in the play's debut, there is a nice symmetry at work here. The entire cast of four was pretty amazing.
Here are some reviews.
I went to see Andy's show Potty Mouth last night (or is it early this morning). As we waited outside to be let in, there was an adorable little dark-haired kid playing on the sidewalk. When some air-conditioner condensation -- I hope that's what it was -- started pouring off the awning above our heads, he jumped into it and got all wet. He then proceeded to try to embrace all of the gay guys in line. A future performance artist is born!
It was GREAT. I had seen part of it "in process" at Dixon Place, but that was months ago, and I think it has really come together into a fabulous raunchy, moving, hilarious piece of one-man theater. It runs through October 25. Go!
I am still so jet-lagged. I got my second wind around 2am, and went with some of my fellow bloggers/audience members to Lolita. I liked the vibe of the place -- low key (and cute) bartenders, and a crowd that was about half straight and half gay. Not enough places pull that off successfully in NYC, even on the Lower East Side. There were gorgeous photographs of the abandoned buildings at Ellis Island in the back. The even had Brooklyn Weisse on tap!
Do I have to list all of the bloggers that were there and link to them here? I'm tired. The one person I hadn't met before, at least not in "the real world", was Mark. At one point, when Andy talked about gay men with cats, we both groaned simultaneously -- getting a reaction from our performer.
I should be doing work, but several shows were about to close, so we went to a few Chelsea galleries this afternoon. I'm writing this while I wait for Apache to compile on a few clients' machines -- security release!
I wasn't that excited by some of the shows, but there were a couple I would recommend going to see before they close:
- James Hyde at Brent Sikkema
- Group show at Paula Cooper, especially the Dan Flavin
- Group show at Kravets/Wehby (web site not updated in a year!), especially Kanishka Raja
Paula Cooper gets extra points for having the flyer for the Not In Our Name rally on Sunday in Central Park taped to the gallery door.
As I walked home, I noticed that 17th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues certainly is gentrifying! There is a Karim Rashid store, plus an upscale hair salon, where people were waiting out front drinking sparkling water from wine glasses -- glass ones, not plastic.
I love Jesus because he keep oil cheap for my SUV -- spotted out in front of the Catholic Church on 10th Avenue:
Random broken window image:
We went to the NYC premiere of Philip Glass's new opera "Galileo Galilei" at BAM last night. It was very disappointing. The music wasn't that interesting, the libretto wasn't so hot, and the directing was terrible. It seemed like a good idea: Galileo, Philip Glass, and director/co-librettist Mary Zimmerman (Metamorphoses).
As James said, it was more like a masque than an opera, but it just didn't work. The direction at times drove me crazy. At one point several people are moving in a gondola. It moves because a person at the front pulls it, but there is a gondolier there making the motions. That's fine, but once they get to the middle of the stage and the boat isn't actually moving, both the gondolier and the person with the rope at the front continue to move as if it is. I get the idea, but I was so distracted by the fake motion of the guy pulling the boat I couldn't listen to the music. At another point in the opera, Galileo refuses a drink from a servant when invited to share some wine with an important cardinal in the garden of his villa. I don't think so. Even if he didn't drink, there's no way he would have refused the glass.
Bad art is so depressing.
Followup on Thurday: The NYT review. It's one of the most non-committal things I have ever read. One good quote though:
But without wishing to disparage either Mr. Glass or "Galileo" which is notably fresher than Mr. Glass's last few operas can it really be that, 20 years on, Mr. Glass is still the standard-bearer for what's "next" in music? Isn't the festival now an entrenched orthodoxy with a postmodernist accent?