Archive for September, 2019

The enigma of Maureen Maher.

Sunday, September 29th, 2019

As I have mentioned numerous times I watch an absurd amount of television. Like, borderline unconscionable. I do like me those one hour crime stories. I’ve watched a lot of 48 Hours and in the process I’ve seen a lot of host Maureen Maher. Here’s the deal: Most of these hosts stand in front of a benign pattern  / green screen wearing a dark-colored whatever and tell the intro and outro of the story. Not Maureen. Maureen shows up every time in a complex leather jacket with a lot of flaps and buttons. If she’s in front of a green screen it’s got a run-down warehouse on it (why?) and she’ll often hold her hands in weird positions in front of her torso like she’s a noble in Louis XIV’s court. I did some research and apparently others have noticed this.

 

I consider this a true diamond image in a pile of coal images. We’ve got an flappity jacket, a crappy 3D warehouse AND Maureens’s doing something extra-weird with her hands, making a portal or stargate of some kind. It’s all-encompassing. I feel like I’ve been blessed.

Broadway.

Sunday, September 22nd, 2019

I don’t often go to the theater because it’s absurdly expensive (about $100++ a ticket) and the audience is filled with people. I don’t know if you know this but people as a whole are really badly behaved. They fool around on their phones. They forget to turn off the ringer even after being reminded 72 times. They unwrap crinkly plastic wrappers on candy for what seems to be forty-five minutes. I read this nugget this morning that chilled me to the bone.

Horrifying. So I tend to stay home. But sometimes I forget, decide to go out there, brave the masses and absorb culture straight from the source. I saw the play referenced above, Betrayal. It was really well done. I had never seen Pinter’s work before. The show was nice and brisk, 90 minutes with no intermission. It was dry and British and a solid classic play. Tom Hiddleston was great but I though Charlie Cox (Daredevil on Netflix) was such a terrific actor he made the other two look subpar. That man is talented as hell. As soon as the audience stopped clapping at the end I booked it out of there with great haste. I did not want to get enmeshed in the hordes of women vibrating with desire outside the stage door. There was so, so many of them.

On Wednesdays Broadway shows have a matinee at 2:00 and another show at 7:00 or 8:00 so I made the choice to double-punch my theater experience. I got a ticket for Dear Evan Hansen (musical) at 2:00 and To Kill A Mockingbird (play) at 7:00. Even though Dear Evan Hansen came out a few years back I have done an excellent job of learning as little as possible about it. I knew one song in its entirety and a chunk of one other and that’s it. I had a rough idea of the plot but nothing concrete. So there was many components that I did not anticipate. Hooooo, that show gutted me like a fish. It’s about social anxiety and feeling alone and high school which exacerbates the social anxiety and isolation because in case you forget high school is straight-up the worst. It incorporates social media because things are different now, everybody can know everything in zero seconds and once it’s out there it’s out there forever. I’m going to try to tell you the smallest amount while explaining my experience so if you go to see the show it’s not spoiled too much for you. The show started, set up the characters (it feels like more but there’s only eight actors total) and the first song kicked in. It was fine, it felt pretty standard, I was whelmed. I settled in for an adequate time. And then song #2 happened and I was like, “Oh no, this is going to be a ride, I can tell.” I made it all the way into Act II after the intermission before I teared up. I made almost all the way to the end before the choking crying started. It gave me great comfort to hear all the sniffling and gulping around me, we were feeling all the feels. After the show ended I stood up, exited my row and did some deep breathing in the hallway. I would highly recommend this musical. The role of Evan Hansen is exceptionally difficult to perform and it’s worth seeing the show to see the actor portray the role. It’s tough but it’s worth it. Try to see a matinee (Wednesdays and Saturdays) so when you exit you aren’t walking out into nighttime and then promptly going home and going to sleep. You need some time to digest. Here’s a video of the original cast which basically gives you the identical amount of information I just did, so not major plot points, only the basics.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCqoj1Y4PiQ

After eating a pastrami sandwich moistened with my tears I walked about 40 feet to the other theater where To Kill A Mockingbird was playing (the Broadway theaters are very close to each other). That show was great. I loved the book when I read it in school and I think this production did a stellar job of capturing those emotions. The three lead kids were played by adults and I didn’t think I could get past that but they were effective at portraying children and I didn’t notice after a while. Aside from the horrendous racism, and there is plenty, there are some funny moments. It’s a wonderful example that no feeling is isolated, there’s always some grief and some humor and some anger all mixed in together. The scenery moves a bit too much but other than that, big fan. Also highly recommend.

NYC stuff.

Monday, September 16th, 2019

A few select items:

1. I walked past a deli specializing in pickles and this sign was in the window.

I will now start wishing people “May The Lord of Pickles smile upon your crocks.” You don’t even have to like pickles and it still feels good to say. Bonus: Don’t tell people what you’re referencing. Just hit ’em with the good wishes, include a sweeping arm gesture and walk away. Leave ’em blessed and confused.

2. Moomins and I finally went to the Whitney Museum in the meatpacking district of New York (more on that later) and in the process we went to Chinatown to the restaurant where my father proposed to my mother, Hop Kee. The ambience is not great, think really clean 1980s office bathroom, tile and florescent lighting for days. The food is amazing though. While Moomins was attacking a steamed fish like Jack the Ripper I looked behind her head and saw a sign that tells a thousand stories.

“If ONE MORE PERSON asks me where the G****MNED BATHROOM IS I will straight up throw a piece of crockery at them. Try me. TRY. ME.”

3. Now on of the big elements of New York activity. The Moomins and I have been meaning to go to what used to be the new Whitney Museum (we put it off so long that it’s now just the Whitney). I struggle with modern art. Some of it is good, some of it is bad and all that’s fine but then some of it is straight smoke and mirrors and I am 100% done with that. I thought I would make it into the actual exhibition space before I started fuming but I was wrong. While Moomins was sorting out the ticket situation I ambled into the gift shop and started perusing the usual niceties – big coffee table books, scarves, umbrellas, etc. In a table case there was some pleasant enough jewelry and whatnot… And then I saw it. It was a not particularly well-made two hump porcelain candle holder, one hump per candle. Since there were two of them on display I could see they were made from a mold. Next to the candle holders were some basic white candles. All of this is fine. The comment next to it was you would buy this candle holder and you would get ten candles that come with it. And when you burn the candles you become part of the artwork because each one is unique. And it was selling for $900. Yeah okay here’s the thing: That’s how all candles work. You burn them, they drip all over and there’s your unique sculpture. And I would have understood this for $50. But $900? With the two zeros and everything?

Point is I checked my umbrella into coat check in a rage. I ended up being really impressed with the museum’s collection. It’s an enormous collection of American artists, predominantly painters. What I liked was each painting was made in a cross-section of time and place, x and y axis, and you get a sense of what America was like at that time. There was a portrait done of a Communist leader when this country was close to becoming Communist and in addition to the portrait itself you can see the painting style that was emerging at that time, the colors of the clothes, the tablecloth, etc. There were some paintings done in shortly before the Great Depression of the Ford factory that were like the calm before the storm (the storm being the epic unemployment to come). tt was done in a style I was unfamiliar with called Precisionism where lines are put in specific areas that span across the painting and give it the impression of a clean stained glass window. It’s like the opposite of Impressionism. Where Impressionism is soft and ethereal, Precisionism is crisp lines everywhere. Not a loose stroke to be had. The most famous piece in that style is this:

So I have no regrets in regards to the classic collection. Then there was the moderny modern section. Many years ago I had the experience where on my college campus they got sculptural elements and put all over in random spots (in front of the library, in the courtyard near the humanities building, etc.). One day I was walking past the student apartments where I saw a massive pile of wood and fabric so I did a circle around it to see if there was a placard about the artist who made it. It was at that time I realized it was a pile of garbage. It was a moment of clarity for me. “If the art is indistinguishable from trash, it’s trash.” I’ve now expanded that to “If a cleaning lady comes into the gallery and mistakes your art for trash and throws it away, it’s trash.” I’ll give you some examples.

These were very large hollow plastic shapes. They looked like enormous chrysalises, the casings that caterpillars make to turn into butterflies. Did I fully understand? Not really. Could I clearly tell this was art? Yes I could.

And then there was this.

What is that, tape and floor tile and wood or something? Yeah, that’s not gonna make the cut.

Pass…

…Fail.

I went outside because I needed a breath of fresh air and the topper on the cake was the sculpture that greeted me. When I was in Vienna last winter I was in a museum that had a whole gallery devoted to a plaster cast of a woman tweezing her mustache with a shard of broken glass and farting frankincense. I wish I was kidding. Here’s the post, complete with pictures. I thought that that chapter of my life was done. I was wrong. I wasn’t really sure what this sculpture was and I didn’t look at it for very long. There’s a figure on a dolly being pushed or pulled or something like an ox and then the smoke kicked on.

Are those Mets socks? I imagine I made several art patrons uncomfortable when I semi-yelled, “Is it POSSIBLE for me to not see any more things with smoke coming out of the butthole??? Is THAT something I can opt for???” With context that is an extremely concerning statement so I understand the people that carefully moved away from me. I stared at the skyline which was very nice until I collected myself and then calmly took the elevator down to the ground floor to wait for The Moomins. I would encourage you to visit the Whitney Museum because the permanent collection is excellent. And the space is great. And the views are also great. And the restaurant looked pretty good. May The Lord of Pickles smile upon your crocks and may you not encounter any vaping anuses. I wish that for each and every one of you.