Culture: November 2002 Archives

I mentioned the show a few days ago, and now the images are up. I really liked the paintings by Jackie Gendel, based on her comic book -- see the first two images in the second row.

The photos by Sarah A. Martin are somewhat creepy once you read about them. They are the first two images in the fourth row.

NY Arts has a description:

Sarah Martin also found her photographic material close to home. The photo shoots Martin documented, which she describes as somewhere between soft porn and swimsuit issue, were conducted by young women with whom she attended church or Christian high school in Knoxville. All in their mid-twenties, the women swore an oath to remain virgins until they are married. Many now find themselves without college degrees, unmarried, and living at with their parents. Martin’s interest in documenting the clique’s semi-erotic photo sessions is not an ironic commentary on the situation, but rather an investigation of why the women seek to portray themselves in this manner.

On Monday night we saw two short opera by Bohuslav Martinu at Henry Street Chamber Opera. We've seen all of their productions, and I can't recommend them enough. They do smart, well designed and directed operas with young casts that actually act -- opera as theatre, not the semi-staged concerts that pass for productions at the Met. One was a Dada opera from 1928 Paris, which included things like a young girl who falls in loved with a hanged man. The other, written in the more grim historical moment of 1935 Prague, was more of a fairy tale set in the forest, and featured Kathleen Chalfant as a rather arch narrator. I would watch that woman read a phone book. She has a voice that makes one realize what a trained voice really is, rather than the wimpy voices of actors that are only interested in TV or film.

On the way to the Lower East Side on the subway, we both noticed a very hot guy standing near us with a great speaking voice. Once we saw him again in the lobby, I heard people talking to him and realized he was David Adam Moore who was an incredibly sexy Aeneas in their production of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, complete with leather pants, a couple of tattoos, and a pierced nipple and belly button. Swoon.

We had a great dinner afterward, including a bottle of Alella, at AKA Cafe. Since it was the Monday before Thanksgiving, it was really quiet. The maitre d' reminded me of James Urbaniak, and the whole staff was attractive and smart. A strange guy, after finishing his meal, told them they better do something about Monday nights, or they weren't going to make it, since eventually every store on the block would be a restaurant. He described himself as an "impresario" who owned a restaurant in South Beach. It's the first time I've heard a person actually use that word outside of a period film.

The LES certainly has changed. I remember my friends in a Target Margin production at Nada (on Ludlow) telling me about a shootout over drug turfs one night during a performance. I first went to the neighborhood in 1989, to go have dinner at El Sombrero. I had just moved here from Texas, and my friends and I were researching every decent Mexican restaurant in the city. I lived in Chelsea, which wasn't exactly prosperous then ("excuse me sir/madam, but can I get in my building as soon as you're finished"), but going to the LES felt very "edgy".

Happy Happy Happy!

Soma FM has returned. My productivity can soar once again.

On Friday we had a studio visit with Fred Holland, an artist with the P.S.1 Studio Program. We had first seen his work, and met him, at the Momenta benefit. In his honor we had the curried onion fritters at Le Zinc afterward, spotting Michael Dvorkin having lunch.

This afternoon we were planning to see the "Time to Hope" exhibit at St. John the Divine -- which includes works by Goya and El Greco -- but the wait was too long, so we just spent some time looking at the cathedral instead, and walked north to see a less than exciting show at The Project. We then headed back downtown to see a show I highly recommend: "Regarding Gloria" at White Columns. I will add some links to some of my favorite works from the show once they put some up!

We also went to only two (unfortunately not more) programs at the Mix Festival.

Target Margin is reviving The Sandman, the opera they premiered this summer. If you buy tickets before 12/26, they're only $15. It's certainly worth $15!

If any of you out there would like to join me for The Civilians' benefit on December 9 at The Cutting Room, you can now buy tickets online.

There's a cash bar, so I promise to buy any of you who come at least one drink during the evening of entertainment. It's hosted by Stephen DeRosa, currently The Baker in Into the Woods.

Hurry -- it's only through the weekend. Go see Three Birds at Gale Gates in DUMBO. The playwright is still in her 20s, and she has invented a brilliant language of her own, in a retelling of the myth of Tereus and Philomela. We had dinner afterward around the corner at Water Street Bar.

Earlier in the evening we went to A.R.T. to see J. Morrison's show.

Placido Domingo is to sing an unprecedented duet in Arabic with an Egyptian singer at a concert in Dubai next month.

He's the "smart tenor".

We didn't make it to Williamsburg for The Civilians last night. The weather was awful, and the downtown trains weren't running, so we gave up.

We did go today, for a studio visit with the sweet and talented Meredith Allen, followed by visits to Plus Ultra and Bellwether.

We had a great dinner at M -- and I see they're having an Eileen Myles reading on December 18.

If I were in SF, I would go see the latest show by Assume Vivid Astro Focus at Peres Projects.

Check out Sick Bionic Woman.

We went to see "Our Country's Good" tonight at Culture Project. Loved it -- go read James's account.

The other highlight of the evening: I met Dakota in person finally, rather than only via email. I hadn't realized she was so beautiful. I have a thing for smart attractive New England girls.

I just saw a fabulously weird Ken Russell movie -- yes I know that seems redundant -- called Salome's Last Dance, in which Oscar Wilde's play is presented in a brothel.

It's worth seeing, especially for what seem to be the only movie role of Imogen Millais-Scott, as Salome.

I was going to watch Y tu mamá también, but my DVD's subtitles were a bit wacked. Even two or three line subtitles would appear for only a second (or less). Has anyone else seen this?

We went to the opening for the Illegal Art show at the CGBG Gallery. We went mainly because of Eric Doeringer -- we have #1 of the CD 2002 project, but we also ran into the lovely Simon and Dan.

We're going to see some theatre by The Civilians on Saturday night at Galapagos. Who wants to join us?

We're going to see Boca tomorrow night (Monday the 11th). Are any of my lovely readers planning on joining us? Leave a comment or send an email.

I've seen two things in the last few days that I highly recommend. I'm too tired to do a good writeup on either one, but here they are:

David Drake: Son of Drakula at Dance Theater Workshop. David has amazing range, and just gets better every time I see him. This work goes from his research into the Drakula family tree (his real last name) to his visits with possible family members in post-war Yugoslavia. I was very impressed by the writing and his performance.

Landford Wilson's "Book of Days" at Signature Theatre. Some of the reveiws were uneven, but I thought it was excellent. I can't say for sure whether I would think so with a less stellar cast and direction, but its politics are in the right place, and as someone who grew up less than 100 miles from its setting in Missouri, it certainly felt accurate. Miriam Shor, of Hedwig fame, was amazing as a small-town Missouri girl with a love for hunting and a chance to play Joan in a local production of Shaw's St. Joan. It was hard to believe I was seeing the same actress I saw on stage in Hedwig.

If you find yourself in Times Square between now, and January 22, 2003, look up at the big TV screen to see videos by William Wegman, courtesy of Creative Time.

Aaarrrgh. I can't help myself. I said I was going to try to concentrate on politics a bit less after the election, but I'm not succeeding.

OK. Here's a non-politics post, except for the fact that White Box is one of the few non-profit art spaces that still has the nerve to do political shows.

We attended the benefit last night, and picked up some works by:

Carlos de Villasante

Rey Akdogan

Alejandro Diaz

Michael Meads -- We already had 3 photos by him. There's an opening tonight for his new show at Nikolai Fine Art on West 22nd Street.

I haven't looked at any election news yet, having finished dinner after attending a preview screening of Far From Heaven, the new Todd Haynes film. It's set in 1958, and is like a neo-Douglas Sirk film.

Like Safe, his previous film, this one has me thinking about whether I really liked it. (I eventually decided Safe was brilliant, even though it's an excrutiating movie to sit through.)

The film pulls off the whole 50s claustrophobic suburban environment very well, to the point that I was squirming in my seat. I didn't even grow up in that world, unlike James.

In the end I think it works, but it is very melodramatic and heavy-handed in a weepy movie kind of way. The plot involves a suburban housewife (brilliantly played by Julianne Moore), whose life starts to fall apart when she catches her husband (played by Dennis Quaid) with another man. As he struggles with being homosexual, and goes to a psychiatrist, she starts to fall in love with her African-American gardener. Having grown up in the South, I found the latter story totally believable, and incredibly disturbing. In a way, I could imagine a gay white man in that world finding a way to live a decent life more easily than I could a white woman who loved a black man. James found the racism in the film rather heavy-handed, and he found it hard to believe that the North would be that bad in this era based on his experiences in Michigan and New England. As I said, having grown up in the South a generation later, I find the whole thing quite believable. If any of you reading this have an opinion on late 1950s Connecticut or New England, I would love for you to add a comment to this post.

One of the most amazing scenes in the film is when the husband and wife try to have a conversation after she has caught him in his office kissing another man. They talk around each other, not quite forming sentences, and their voices become hoarse with the strain. It's a brilliant piece of film-making. (I realize I'm using brilliant too much here.)

I think it's worth seeing, but in a way I find it a bit indulgent for a filmmaker to try to recreate a 50s film, but add the racial and sexual twists. The score is over the top, like a 50s film, but it seems ironic rather than sincere in our era. The audience -- an odd mix of New Festival members, women-in-film organizations, and random elderly ladies from the Upper West Side with tickets through Equity --- laughed at odd times, because the dialog seems so "knowing" to a modern audience.

One of the amusing lines in the film, where they talk about how "radical" Julianne Moore's character is, has one of the women she went to college with talking about her doing summer stock with "steamy Jewish boys".

The only celebrities I spotted in the audience were Christine Vachon (the producer) and John Cameron Mitchell.

George Clooney is listed as one of the executive producers. Maybe he really is gay.

One quibble with Dennis Quaid. He's hot, but a 50s sales exec would not have a six-pack like that. I give him points though for being believable as a married man struggling with his sexuality -- and he is shown kissing a man, unlike Tom Hanks who wouldn't be shown kissing Antonio Banderas in Philadelphia. I hated the whole vibe of "I'm not really gay, just playing gay" in that film.

Another fabulous actress in this is Patricia Clarkson, playing the best friend of Julianne Moore's character. I've seen her a few times on stage, especially in Nicky Silver plays.


I see from IMDB that there is a film before Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, which I do have, called Assassins: A Film Concerning Rimbaud. If any of you out there know how to get a copy of it, let me know.

I already have plans to go to a preview screening of Far From Heaven, the new Todd Haynes film, otherwise I would go see Nina Hagen for $8 at the Gershwin Hotel.

My friend Eric Doeringer is in an interesting show called Illegal Art, dealing with the increasing use of copyright and intellectual property laws to stifle creative works that comment on or borrow from other works and images.

The laws governing "intellectual property" have grown so expansive in recent years that artists need legal experts to sort them all out. Borrowing from another artwork--as jazz musicians did in the 1930s and Looney Tunes illustrators did in 1940s--will now land you in court. If the current copyright laws had been in effect back in the day, whole genres such as collage, hiphop, and Pop Art might have never have existed.

The irony here couldn't be more stark. Rooted in the U.S. Constitution, copyright was originally intended to facilitate the exchange of ideas but is now being used to stifle it.

The Illegal Art Exhibit will celebrate what is rapidly becoming the "degenerate art" of a corporate age: art and ideas on the legal fringes of intellectual property. Some of the pieces in the show have eluded lawyers; others have had to appear in court.

After making a brunch stop to get our invitations to The Civilians benefit on December 9, we headed downtown for two of LMCC's current projects.

The first, called Looking In, consists of quite a few site-specific installations on the ground floor of a new luxury rental building at 50 Murray Street. We mainly went to visit with Nancy Hwang. For the current project (through November 9), you can make a reservation by or telephone (917-887-9892) to spend time with her for a nice chat, with free tea or coffee and pastries from Ceci-Cela. Drop-ins are also welcome if she's not already busy with someone. One of these events was how I first met Nancy. Whether you can schedule a visit with her or not, the art is worth seeing, and you can go anytime, since it's all in windows and other spaces on the ground floor of the building.

Afterward, we went to see New Views: World Financial Center, the successor to their WTC studio residency. I went mainly to see Charles Goldman's work, but the whole things is really great. I used to work in the WTC, and later in the WFC, and it's a very refreshing change to see good art in those hallways. So much of the time public art exhibits are very dissapointing. My other favorite works in the show were the videos by Pia Lindman, but all of the work was of really high quality.

The parakeet is resting quietly in its cage. Suggestions for what we should name it are welcome. James's take on the whole thing is here.

We went to an opening at M3 Projects in DUMBO for Christina Mazzalupo and Harry Nolan. We have several works by Christina, and I've been watching Mr. Nolan since we first saw his work in a big Mixed Greens show in Williamsburg in 2001. He was also in the first show at Plus Ultra (titled "Skank"), one of my favorite Williamsburg galleries.

If you go to the show, I highly recommend starting with Christina's big wall of works on paper before you look at her paintings. Those contain her ruminations on Atlantis, alchemy, and other myths -- mostly from Internet sources -- without which the paintings are a bit baffling. Harry's examinations of the imagery of war are quite powerful. My favorite work is titled "Debriefing", with images inspired by Operation Anaconda.

My regular visits to DUMBO and Williamsburg make me feel that Manhattan is pricing itself out of being interesting.

After the opening, we went to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Bistrot Margot. It's the anti-Nolita restaurant -- an oasis from the Mercedes SUV-driving trendoids that make that neighborhood so annoying. As we walked back to the subway, we passed a former cyber cafe that I remember from when I worked in Soho in the late 90s. It's now empty, with a single payphone hanging on the wall.

Deric Carner, an artist who amuses me greatly, has just updated his web site. Go take a look.

He's also a great print or web designer, for those looking for a designer...

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

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