... but, via the magic of the internet, I can speak to you oracularly, from the past. Except that you're probably not here anyway, either, since it's the day before Thanksgiving. Whatever.
I'm Not There, Todd Haynes's not-a-Dylan-biopic, opens today at Film Forum. It's a not insignificant cultural event, and you're probably going to want to buy tickets in advance (tonight's 7pm show is already — like, was already, in the past when I wrote this — sold out). Luckily for you, it's Thanksgiving weekend, so it'll less difficult to get a ticket than it might otherwise be. (And luckily for the film and its distributors, word-of-mouth has been so extravagant that it'll probably make decent opening weekend money despite being a really cerebral semiotic text opening in N.Y. and L.A. only on the second-heartlandiest holiday of the year.)
I've already said a fair amount of what I have to say about the movie; for now I'll just add a little more in the way of comparison between the film and (noted Dylan fan) Jonathan Lethem's The Ecstasy of Influence essay. Both, it turns out, seize on Rimbaud's quote "I is an other" as a way of getting at the idea of identity, in the modern, media-saturated era, as something that's constructed, especially via borrowings from other cultural texts. I can't think of a subject more relevant or potentially rich; Dylan is quite possibly the ideal vehicle for an exploration of it.
Also, I'm Not There is stylistically various and bracing, and the music is pretty awesome. It's a really good movie and if you're in the city for the weekend, you should see it.
(And if you're not in the city this weekend, you should just rent Velvet Goldmine.)
Time to employ my famous, unimpeachable music criticism to this blog once more: There's a concert tonight that is a good one, it is popular bands that you might come to like or might already like. They are certainly my #1 favorite bands, their stickers are all over my binders.
OK, it's at Terminal 5, it's The Hold Steady and Art Brut and [the?] 1990s, and it's at 7:30pm. It will cost you $30 if you buy a ticket at the door, but if you buy in advance it's $25. This is definitely a good show.
Sorry, it is difficult for me to not use this feature, now that we have it.
I'll tire of it soon, hush.
is celebrating Thanksgiving by having a Pool-and-Can party from 7pm to midnight. You bring a can, you stand in the pool. There are also wine tastings, a DJ, dancing, and digital art projected onto the walls. The can you bring goes to the homeless, and then afterward there is a giant pool party for the homeless where they all eat the canned food you brought and just splash around. Happy Thanksgiving, you are such a good person.
I have wonderful news: the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, now that it is cold and worse to spend time there, is free all Tuesday through Friday, and on Saturday from 10am to noon. It's a beautiful park, I recommend it. One thing I do not recommend is going there early in the morning but not drinking any water, so that when you leave the park and get on the subway to go to work, you're dehydrated so you faint on the train, and when you wake up you're on the ground and strangers are holding you. Actually in a way I do recommend that because everyone was so nice. I remember when I was still normal and standing up there was this girl near me just scowling and looking cool, but when I woke up from my fainting she was fanning
me and telling me secrets about how not to faint on a train. At one point someone called out "does someone have an unopened bottle of water?" and within 10 seconds a cold one came up and over the crowd. It was like the Wizard of Oz when everyone is around Dorothy at the end, it was kind of wonderful, despite the fact that I thought I was going to die.
Hello and welcome to my eighth grade diary/email to my mother. Anyway so the Brooklyn Botanical Garden is free now, go check it out.
There's a networking party tonight (hosted by NetParty) for young professionals, with free food and drinks and acrobats. I have no idea why there are acrobats, and there's no narrowing down of field, so you just have to be a professional in general. No funny business, no babies, no roofies. It's free as long as you RSVP, and it looks like it's going to be huge. It's at the Hiro Ballroom, it starts at 6:15, and the free food and drinks only last until 7:15, but the professional dancing lasts until 11pm. Get out your blazers and sweatpants, it's time to meet other people. Also, if you don't RSVP but decide at the last minute that there's no way you're missing this event, it's going to cost you $20. But if you grind your butt into a million new clients it's all worth it, isn't it.
Check out the very hilarious joke I made with the image of plugs.
A special surprise after the jump.
Gotcha. Just kidding.
It's just this picture of my grandparents.
Aside from being a major figure in American independent film in general and the New Queer Cinema of the 90s in particular, Christine Vachon has written a couple of entertaining books about the process of making movies, and the eternal negotiation between art and commerce. Shooting to Kill (the name comes from her production company, Killer Films, which debuted the early 90s with Todd Haynes's Poison) came out in 1998, and included sections detailing the production of the greatest movie ever made, Haynes's Velvet Goldmine. A Killer Life is new in paperback, just in time for the release of Haynes's I'm Not There, and Vachon is showing up at The Strand tonight to talk about it, and probably the new movie. Which is really good and which you should see when it comes out tomorrow, but we'll talk about that later.
Today's the last day to see Jean-Jacques Beineix's Diva at Film Forum, with "see" being the operative word. "Beineix thinks with his eyes," Pauline Kael wrote in her New Yorker rave 25 years ago, and, yeah, the proto-MTV (but with much more inclusive taste) Diva is a neon bible for a decade obsessed with the iconographic power of pop imagery. It's described as representing the vanguard a French movement called "cinéma du look."
... which also encompassed such up-and-coming directors as Luc Besson. Whose infrequently screened post-punk underworld (literally and figuratively) odyssey Subway is screening tonight at the French Institute Alliance FranÃ§aise. (So, for that matter, is Breathless, a pop revelation in its own way, as you might have heard.) Yes, that picture is from Subway. Yes, the guy is Christopher Lambert (yes, Highlander), with bleached hair and a dinner jacket like he's an extra in a Duran Duran video or something.
By Matt Levy
The audience shuffled into the cold Water Street warehouse space. A chatty bunch of about twenty-five occupied the folding chairs set up in front of a marvelously detailed 20th century carousel placed behind two shuttered chain-link gates. Only a few children were present, but by the looks of the adults' eyes, the entire audience was prepared for a childlike transformation, once the gates rolled up and the carousel started moving. Calling all adults, children, Shakespearean superstars, carousel confidants and puppetry populists: the Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theater presents Hamlet, atop Jane's Carousel, through this weekend.
For the rest of the review, Kriss Kross'll make ya jump, jump...
The carousel is an ongoing restoration project overseen by Jane Walentas, wife to DUMBO developer David. The carousel was built in 1922 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company; the couple purchased it in 1984, and Mrs. Walentas has spent the better part of two decades refurbishing it. The eventual intended home is Brooklyn Bridge Park, but the park isn't ready for the ride just yet. So it sits, sometimes in motion but mostly just waiting for other creative souls to make the most of a glorious old-time amusement ride.
Which brings us to the Czech-American Marionette Theater. What better set for a mini-production (ninety minutes flat, five puppeteers, about a dozen puppets) of Hamlet, featuring mini-inanimate-actors, than a carousel? You've got the cyclical conscience of the lead and the circular logic of life-or-death existentialism; what's more, both the set and the stars are made out of gorgeous hard-carved wood!
Okay, not all the actors were inanimate. The three men and two women performers, carrying fifteen roles between them, were always an active presence on the stage. Crawling across the benches, straddling the horses and slithering between the rotational poles, they made the best of their one-of-a-kind carousel. These were puppeteers who acknowledged their presence next to each two-foot co-star, which allowed them to make the drama big enough for the children in the to enjoy and understand, but intense and goose-flesh inducing enough for us big kids during the truly heartbreaking scenes. One particularly powerful moment shows us Ophelia's madness, high above the audiences' heads.
There are a handful of original songs performed by the in-house musician, on keyboards, resonator steel guitar, harmonica, mouth-harp, and uke. The songs illustrate the action nicely, and the musical genres cross over from gospel to Nordic war chant to Southern blues to Eastern European folk to cinematic soundtrack. The puppets do their thing, sometimes less interestingly than the performers, and sometimes as interesting. Hardly do the puppets outshine the hardworking actors, with the exception of the singular, multi-faced puppet representing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. There's also a wondrous interlude with Balinese shadow puppets during the play-within-a-play scene.
But of course, the true star in all of this is the carousel. When turning counter-clockwise or when sitting absolutely still, with all its light bulbs on and mirrors glinting in the lights, or even when dark and ominous, a portent of things to come, truly nothing can beat its old-Americana majesty. Once the viewer gets over the intense envy developed while watching these actors with their marionettes climb and jostle, dart and skip, weave and work their ways around this rotating work of art, the entire production ends up playing second fiddle to the stock quiet and simple spectacle of the carousel.
56 Water St, DUMBO.
Closing weekend! Friday and Saturday at 8pm
Saturday and Sunday at 2pm
Tickets available in advance at the box office, www.smarttix.com, or (212) 868-4444
This is Antonio Monda. You probably know Antonio Monda as the guy who asks "What would be the scientific porpoise of keeling it?" at the beginning of The Life Aquatic. Or as the NYU film professor, Fellini scholar, and frequent co-curator of Film Forum retrospectives of key Italian filmmakers.Or possibly as the subject of that essay from this summer's Times Book Review describing how many famous people and cultural figures he knows. (He's "arguably the most well-connected New York cultural figure you've never heard of.") It is via his acquaintances with literally every single person in the world you'd go out of your way to get to know if you could, that he's written a book called Do You Believe: Conversations on God and Religion, which is basically a series of late-night dorm room conversations with a bunch of people whose opinions on spiritual matters must be interesting to us because they're famous, like Salman Rushdie and Spike Lee. (Whether he knows it or not, Monda stole the idea for this book from The Onion AV Club. Their version is much pithier, wither lower-brow subjects, and is an ideal workplace procrastination aide.)
And tonight, Monda will be at Cooper Union with several of the people he interviewed: Paul Auster, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Nathan Englander. Of course.
Actually, Monda interviewed me for the book, too, but I guess the interview didn't make the cut for the book, it was a pretty short conversation. Basically, he said, "Say, man, you believe in God?" and I said, "No, man," and he said, "It'd be a lot cooler if you did." I think Auster and Safran Foer will probably have more to say on the subject, though.
How long have you been panhandling around here?
Did you grow up here?
In Brooklyn, I was raised by my mother. We were influenced by Shirley Chisholm, Carl Butler, Calvin Williams, Muhammad Ali. Those were the main people. People wanted to look out for the major interest of children in those days. They owned the community, Bed Stuy. After they were gone the whole place went down to the dumps and everything became gangsta. You think Denzel Washington just came up with that? American Gangster? Brooklyn, you can't even live there anymore.
Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx... they're very violent like in the days of Al Capone. There's no way the homeless could survive out there.
What was your childhood like?
I had a nice childhood. In those days everyone was interested in children going to school. My mom wanted us to go to Catholic School, but none of those accepted us so we had to go to public school. ... Get the rest of the interview after the jump.
Hey, spend the first part of your Thanksgiving week memorializing a bleak Swedish atheist who died this summer! Yay! Starting in the late 80s, Ingmar Bergman directed several productions for The Royal Dramatic Theatre of Sweden, productions that made their New York bows at BAM when they crossed the Atlantic. So they feel, not unfairly, that they have a certain claim on and obligation to the guy's legacy. Apparently, people in a position to judge such things agree with them: tonight, at 7pm at the Harvey Theater (tickets are first-come, first-served, and distributed beginning at 6pm), several of Bergman's stage and screen collaborators — including Bibi Andersson, Pernilla August, Lena Olin and Peter Stormare — will read excerpts from Bergman's diaries.
And since Bergman, you know, made movies, BAMcinématek is also showing a few of those, tomorrow evening and on Wednesday. Tomorrow, the stunning Bibi Andersson introduces Persona, starring a much younger version of herself, and Jonathan Lethem introduces Shame (it's the last night of the screening series he curated). And on Wednesday, Pernilla August introduces Fanny and Alexander, Bergman's magical, theatrical, nostalgic valedictory.
There's a free screening of the Sigur Ros movie, Heima, tonight at Sound Fix at 7pm. It's about their legendary, free concert through their native Iceland, at venues both tiny and "huge." Here's a trailer for the movie. It looks chilly, boring, and beautiful, just like their music. There's also free PBR. This should be a popular event, but not rowdy. Sort of sterile and transfixed.
Starting today, the holiday decorations at the American Museum of Natural History are up and they're great. There's a giant Origami Tree in the Roosevelt Memorial Hall, and it's covered in more than 500 origami animals, inspired by the mythical creatures exhibition that's been running there and is awesome, I would almost go to it twice. So the bottom of the tree will be adorned in such mythical creatures as unicorns, dragons, and mermaids, as well as real creatures like narwhals and peacocks. It sounds really cool. The folders have been folding since July, and if you go to the museum during the holiday season, origami volunteers will be on hand to teach you, no matter how old you are, how to fold (simple) origami.
Plus the two 19-foot barosaurs in the main entrance hall will be covered in beautiful holiday lights, just like dinosaurs in medieval times.
If you haven't been to the museum recently, I really recommend it. It's a lot of fun and totally fascinating, no one will be bored there.
If you're standing in or near Union Square at 7 o'clock tonight and you want to go to a reading from a famous person, you have two options. Padma Lakshmi will be at the Strand, reading from her new cookbook, Tangy, Tart, Hot & Sweet: A World of Recipes for Every Day. Or maybe not reading, it's hard to imagine someone reading recipes. No it's not, actually. That would be fine. Plus she is beautiful.
Or you could go to the Barnes & Noble in Union Square to hear Sherman Alexie read from his book that just won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, a growing-up story about a contemporary Native American boy.
It's a toss-up. It feels like my brain is in a Chinese finger trap, also known as Chinese finger prison. It pulls one way, but it's pulling the other way at the same time.
So tonight, David Fincher is going to be at the Walter Reade Theater, presenting his longer-by-seven-minutes Director's Cut of Zodiac, and talking about it with Film Comment's Kent Jones, who, like a few other FC folks whose opinions you should respect (Amy Taubin, Nathan Lee), is pretty over the moon about the movie. For my part, I finally caught up with it a few weeks ago, via Netflix. And yes, I can see where everybody's coming from with the talk about the movie as a commentary on obsession, and the difference between truth and information, and all the physical evidence as metaphor for 21st century digital media white noise, but mostly I just thought the movie was really scary. Like, I slept with the lights on. And when first I saw that the Director's Cut was screening, I thought, "hmm, the home viewing experience, prone as it is to interruptions and competing input from phones, bathroom breaks, etc., doesn't really allow for the kind of engagement the movie supposedly demands. Perhaps I should try it again, on the big screen." But then that night I had a really scary dream that the Zodiac Killer was chasing me. So I don't think I'll be going tonight. But you maybe should.
Here's a few ideas:
Saturday, November 17
More shopping, more: Billion Dollar Babes titanic sale at The Altman Building. Must RSVP ASAP. Lots of fancy clothes at v low price.
There's a Rocks Off Concert Cruise tonight at 9 with Future Rock("electro-live mad scientists"), DJ crew Orchard Lounge, and video mashups from Clay Dempsey. It's a lot of music, dancing, drinking, food, and visual stimulation, and it's aboard The Temptress, which is described as "a floating balloon" (that is a boat and not a floating balloon) and thus not affected by inclement weather. It leaves from Pier 81, at 41st Street and the West Side Highway, and if you would like to go, please buy your $20 tickets here, quickly.
Also, My Brightest Diamond is at the Gramercy Theater tonight, how about that?
Brian Jacques, the creator of the Redwall series (you know, where the little animals lived in villages and abbeys and had feasts of acorns and such) will be at Symphony Space to discuss his new website. It sounds a little weird, but who knows. It's Guys Read, and it's a dating website for teenage boys... to find matches with BOOKS. It's at 1pm at Symphony Space, and it costs $18 at the door. This is less of a recommendation than a hey do you guys remember.OK, that's it for this weekend, hope everyone has a great time. See you on Monday.
The "Hansel and Gretel" exhibition opened on Friday at the Arnold & Marie Schwartz Gallery Met, at Lincoln Center, to commemorate the new opera of the same name. It's a collaboration between New Yorker artists and the Metropolitan Opera, and it's lots of creepy and hilarious artworks inspired by the legendary children who saved themselves and cooked the witch. It's free, check it out. Click here to see a slideshow of the art without going anywhere, I recommend that slideshow.
I remember driving into New York when I was moving here in the summer of 1962 and I was sitting on the BQE in my covered wagon when I noticed this weird monster on top of a building that looked half like a stupid kid's drawing and half like high art. And then next to it was "NECKFACE," which is smart and creepy.
Cut to 2007, and now Neckface has a gallery show that opened on Halloween. It's called Closed Casket, and it features spooky art, like metal masks inspired by Aztec death masks and many other scary things. It's about death. Bringing a date to this event would be a good idea because it's both cool and exciting as well as not boring. It's at Dactyl Foundation, which is at 64 Grand St between West Broadway and Wooster. It runs through November 24, so strike it while the iron is still on strike. Here are more pics of the exhibition, I recommend them. I might even go to this myself one day, who knows. You only live once.
Playing tonight at the Gramercy Theater is VHS or Beta, who, if their band name were to incorporate the name of a type of cheese, would, as previously discussed, probably be called VHS or Feta. This alone is probably reason enough to see the band, but it happens that they're awfully good as well. A band once lumped into the whole "dance-punk" genre (which was a fake and made-up genre, but useful for purposes of classification and good shorthand for lazy writers such as myself), they've moved into a more arena-y place, augmenting their sense of rhythm with epic, adorably cheesy synths. Their most recent album, Bring on the Comets, is twelve songs long; pretty much all twelve of them are better covers of Talk Talk's "It's My Life" than that No Doubt version that came out a few years ago.
Time to go shopping. Today marks the start of Seventh on Sale, the giant, ninth annual sample sale of clothes sold on Seventh Avenue. There'll be more than 30,000 items for you to buy, some of which are available at up to 70% discount. Call now for your free commemorative coin purse. Get your Christmas shopping done, if all your friends and family members are fun, young females. Funyun females. All the huge brands that you love will be there, such as Marc Jacobs, Chanel, Stride-Rite, and Prada.
Buy all the hottest new shawls and pants that you have been dreaming of. Get there early to avoid/participate in the madness: it's from 4 to 6pm today, from 10am to noon and then 3 to 5pm on Saturday, and then from 11am to 2pm on Sunday. It's at the 69th Regiment Armory, on 68 Lexington Ave at 26th St, and each time block costs $20, all of which goes to HIV/AIDS awareness education programs.
If it's all too much for you, you can stay where you are and shop directly through your electronic computer via the world wide websites, and you can do that until December 6th. You might even be able to buy an outfit that a celebrity wore or looked at one time. I bet that would feel like heaven on earth, like angel wings just burst out the skin of my back.
I'll be damned if this week hasn't flown by, like a witch. Let's start Friday by thinking about food: Sweet, the giant dessert festival, is happening tonight. There'll be mountains of desserts, like cakes, plus chocolates and pastries and cheeses. Also there will be a fountain of champagne and a full bar and "fine cordials." There will also be famous people like Giada de Laurentiis, Rachael Ray, Lorraine Bracco, and dozens of famous chefs. It's going on from 9pm to 1am tonight, but the sad part is that you can't go because it's sold out. But what's terrific is that you are allowed to bid at a silent auction for stuff like a Willy Wonka Gumball Mural. It's just like you're at the event.
Speaking of desserts, my grossest dessert story is when I was in high school working as a caterer. When we'd bring in the dessert plates, if people hadn't finished their cheesecakes I would eat them from the back. I'd probably do that again if the opportunity arose.
facebook? did I miss something?
I never got a facebook site because I don't want to spend my free time…
"Welcome to the Machine . . . Where have you been? It's alright we know…