Thursday, July 30, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Saturday, July 25, 2009
There was much to admire in the Manhattan Theatre Source's Barefoot. The set and costume design details were painstakingly attended to by Travis McHale and Stacey Berman, respectively. For example, Dave Brubeck's 1961 Take Five was effective as the background music between scenes, and a particularly lovely lemon-yellow satin vintage satin dress was a nice touch . An A&P grocery bag, a rotary phone, and Life magazines placed on the coffee table contributed to the overall 1960s atmosphere.
While some aspects of the dialogue and plot are politically incorrect (e.g. Mrs. Bates wonders if dyeing her hair a darker color would make her look like a Mexican, a line which provoked a wave of nervous titters in the audience), and some seem quaint or sexist (e.g. Corie's entire raison d'être is to be the best wife ever), Barefoot in the Park still manages to stand today as a time capsule of an era that no one seemed to mind experiencing today, if only to savor for a couple of hours the thought of paying the average rent at the time of $75.63 (but it was really $125 for Corie and Paul) for a Greenwich Village brownstone walk-up near Washington Square park.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I've just begun exploring the Akashic Books noir series, which are set in cities throughout the world - the one I'm reading now is Manhattan Noir 2: The Classics. It features short stories by Edith Wharton, Langston Hughes, Damon Runyan, Joyce Carol Oates, and Stephen Crane, among others. According to their website , Akashic Books "...is a Brooklyn-based independent company dedicated to publishing urban literary fiction and political nonfiction by authors who are either ignored by the mainstream, or who have no interest in working within the ever-consolidating ranks of the major corporate publishers." I like that their stated mission is "the reverse-gentrification of the literary world" and that the founder was musician Johnny Temple.
Then there are those books that have stared accusingly at me from my bookshelves, waiting for me to read them. It's not like I haven't tried, though. For example, I hereby promise to attempt (for the fourth time) to complete Roberto Bolaño's The Savage Detectives, a book I purchased when the translated English version first came out over two years ago. All the elements of the book seemed right up my alley at the time - I love literature, strangeness, and Mexico City, but for whatever reason, I have never gotten past page 146. The book is 577 pages long, but that sort of thing has never stopped me before! I have read and loved War and Peace, Les Miserables, and Moby-Dick, among many other lengthy tomes. Roberto, I shall give you another try in August, ¿está bien?
If this doesn't work, I will concede defeat and dive into Sarah Vowell's The Wordy Shipmates and Pulitzer-prize winning poet laureate Charles Simic's The Monster Loves His Labyrinth: Notebooks. In January 2008, a friend and I were fortunate to have heard Mr. Simic read some of his poetry at the Jazz Standard, accompanied by jazz musicians. It was very Beatnik and one of many experiences I had imagined enjoying upon moving to New York two years ago.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
I thought about how humans interact with spaces, whether real, recreated, or imaginary. As a child, I remember Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, and was always intrigued by Alice going through the mirror to experience life on the other side. When I left the building after the presentation, I observed how people moved on the streets and in the subways and realized how three-dimensional everyday life is. Cohen succeeds not only in transforming what is ordinarily a two-dimensional art-viewing experience into a three-dimensional, psychological one - she also makes us see how we fit into our everyday environments. She is an artist to watch.