We'll be back January 2nd. In the meantime, please enjoy our special photo montage, starting tomorrow and continuing through the holiday festivities.
Lots of love and fondness,
Mark and Edith
The beginning and end of Auden's New Year Letter (1940).
Under the familiar weight
Of winter, conscience and the State,
In loose formations of good cheer,
Love, language, loneliness and fear,
Towards the habits of next year,
Along the streets the people flow,
Singing or sighing as they go:
Exalte, piano, or in doubt,
All our reflections turn about
A common meditative norm,
Retrenchment, Sacrifice, Reform.
Convict our pride of its offense
In all things, even penitence,
Instruct us in the civil art
Of making from the muddled heart
A desert and a city where
The thoughts that have to labor there
May find locality and peace,
And pent-up feelings their release.
Edith and I will be leaving this blog in the hands of a mystery guest-blogger starting tomorrow, but I'm not sure what he has lined up in terms of event recommendations or anything like that. So, if you're looking for ways to keep busy between now and January 2nd, why not try...
Seeing a movie? Of the big awards-baiting holiday releases, I'd go with There Will Be Blood (opens the day after Christmas): all Westerns are, implicitly, American founding myths, and Paul Thomas Anderson's oil saga is an epic consideration of bloodthirsty capitalism, tearing through the soil and the families that live on it. Through in a steady diet of casually achieved iconic framings and a ferocious Daniel Day-Lewis performance; I think the movie gets away from Anderson towards the end (he runs out of ways to contain Day-Lewis, maybe), but it's as likely to become canonical as anything released this year. Rep-wise, the Walter Reade is running a Bob Fosse series in between Christmas and New Year's, and if you've never seen, for instance, Cabaret, you probably should.
Reading? I won't be doing a New Yorker Reader until I get back on account of I'm saving the new Winter Fiction Issue for a bus ride, as god intended. Also, first I have to re-read Ray Carver's "What We Talk About When We Talk About Love," since one of the stories in the issue is "Beginners," Carver's original (and preferred) draft of it, later cut to frigging ribbons by Carver's editor, Gordon Lish. As someone once said: "That's minimalism, bitches." If you have a lot of time, like you're taking a plane or just lounging around at home or something, there's The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps, from the premier publisher of vintage crime fiction, featuring more than a thousand pages of tawdry, lurid, hastily written genre tales from the 20s, 30s and 40s. A secret history of American literature, maybe.
Celebrating the passage of time? Hey, New Year's is coming up. If you want to go to, like, a public party or something, the new issue of the L has a special page of New Year's listings. Otherwise, this place tends to set out displays of champagne arranged by price, starting at like $3.99. Which is, obviously, recommended.
So tonight there's a non-denominational Dreidel-Spinning Tournament, in which contestants spin that dreidel to compete for mountains of glittering gelt. The top three spinners, with wrists of durable elegance (Will Ferrell movie?), get prizes, and everyone else just gets a regular amount of gelt and a dreidel for their efforts, and their $10 entry fee (benefits the Jewish Child Care Association). It's at the Sidewalk Cafe, which, yes, does have booze--this is not your elementary school dreidelry--and it goes from 6 to 9pm. That sounds like just barely enough dreidel.
And in case you need to brush up on your dreidel, here are the rules as they appear online:
[The dreidel] has four sides: ? (Nun), ? (Gimel), ? (Hey), ? (Shin), and is usually played with coins, chips, or gelt (chocolate coins). Collectively, these letters are interpreted as, "a great miracle happened there," or, without the nikkud.
In Israel, one letter on the dreidel are different. The shin has been replaced with a pei, transforming the Hebrew phrase into Nun, Gimel, Hey, Po.
"A great miracle happened here."
* ?? ???? ??? ?? (hebrew is read right to left)
Before beginning, each player starts with 10 or 15 coins, and then each player puts one in the pot. Before spinning the dreidel each player deposits a fixed proportion of the amount received into a "kupah" or kitty. One of the players spins the dreidel. The dreidel stops and lands with one of the symbols facing up and the appropriate action is taken:
* Nun - nischt - "nothing" - the next player spins
* Gimel - gantz - "all" - the player takes the entire pot
* Hey - halb - "half" - the player takes half of the pot, rounding up if there is an odd number
* Shin - shtel - "put in" - the player puts one or two in the pot
Each player is given a turn to spin the dreidel. The game may last until one person has won everythingThere's no sharing in dreidel! Go get dry and ready.
Still in town? Me too. And if you're still around tonight, and not going to your magazine's holiday party, there's another party you should consider. It's called The Long Weekend, and it benefits City Harvest, a great organization that takes excess food from grocery stores/restaurants and delivers it to people who are hungry. It's a crazy danceparty with Professor Rockwell and DJ Knomad, and although there's no open bar, the drinks are cheaply: $5 well drinks, $4 all beer, $4 well shots. You're encouraged to bring non-perishable food to donate. I would, but I ONLY buy organic, local food from the Greenmarket that I carry home in a hemp bag embroidered with strings of manure that has dissolved into my body by the time I get home. It's at Uncle Ming's, its all night, from 9pm until they close, and there's no cover. If I recall correctly, this is the place with very attractive bartenders.
This was the first time I've really tried to do an emoticon. I had to crane my neck sideways to make sure it looked like tears. I don't know if I really see it. Anyway.
Rats aren't just gross and ratty, they can sometimes be helpful as well. Special rats in Africa have been trained to smell out landmines, thus facilitating their removal. Their sense of smell is "a million" times better than ours, plus they are cheap and small and simple. They're good at their job, but they (and their friends) also need money to keep it up. For the friend or family member who has everything except a rat in Tanzania they will never touch, you can Adopt a Hero Rat for about $7 a month (it says 5 Euros, that's a rough conversion). That gets you pictures of your rat, your rat's name (Rosie, Mercy, Posh, and Becks are featured on the site now), and updates from your rat's trainer on what's up with your rat, like what it's favorite activities are (eating, sniffing) and how many landmines they've been smelling. Either way, the website is cute and interesting. And if you want more, there's a neat PBS Frontline video on this website. From that video, I learned that the rats have to wear sunblock on their sensitive little ears when they go out in the sun looking for landmines. Aaaah. Little rats!
Holy shit it's about to be 2008, seems like only yesterday I was a little baby in a diaper and now I am a wizened old man. 2007, wow, let's talk about it: out now, and right here at this very website, is The L Magazine's Year-End Issue, an annual tradition in which all of us at the L go slightly crazy putting together blow-out content and wrapping up the year and thinking too much about our lives and trying, futilely, to get our rest and take our vitamins before the holiday party. So.
The Year-End Issue. 2007 in news, politics, publishing, arts and letters, bars, restaurants, food, fashion, art, theater, activism, sex. And since every year critics complain about having to do their "arbitrary and non-insightful" best-of lists, but secretly love love love writing and talking about best-of lists, we've got best-of lists. Our music critics weigh in on The Top 25 Albums of 2007, and the year's best singles and biggest disappointments. The L's film critics unveil their Top 10 lists.
You know what? I'm tired. But this issue is really good, and kind of what we're all about.
is performing at the Fillmore tonight. The group--Flavor Flav, Chuck D, and Professor Griff--have been together for 20 years, but you'd never guess it from the timelessly graceful way they carry themselves on reality television. The only seats left are standing room--$35 on Ticketmaster.
And remember, you guys, when it's time to get busy, you know what you gotta do--you gotta raise the roof because it's all on fire, not done by the sun or electrical wire.
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