Archive for the ‘New York’ Category

Rotting never looked so good.

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

We’ll get into the title topic but first: I went to the new ‘n’ improved MoMA! They got the building next door and expanded into that new space. It is a very big museum now. My friend G is a member and got me in for $5 so it was well worth my time. We went through all the new stuff (they have structures covered in bells that I thought were great) and we went through the older, most established collection (Picasso, Monet, Van Gogh, etc.) That’s where I saw the cat.

That cat is so very special. It reminded me of the naive style of Rousseau.

Untrained, simple, clean. Not a great grasp of three-dimensional space. That was when I noticed a detail of the cat painting.

That is a perfectly rendered lion sculpture. Exact proportions. The light hits exactly where it’s supposed to. Which means the artist could have painted a nice normal cat but chose to make this janky-ass busted cat-thing with no back legs and eyes that look right through your torso laying on a really disorganized couch. I have questions for this artist. Several questions.

Okay, back to the title. I love love love when artists take aspects of life we as a culture consider ugly and make it beautiful. That’s where Kathleen Ryan comes in. You remember those foam fruit impaled with sequins on your grandma’s table? It was a very popular look in the 1960s.

Kathleen Ryan makes larger-than-life fruit and covers the surface with semi-precious stones and steel pins to mimic mold and the natural process of the fruit breaking down. It is stunning work. Her style and where she chooses to place the stones and shells and pearls are so creative.

There’s a video of how Kathleen works. It loops. I might have watched it four times in a row.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B2ekksLBx-2/

I would like to steal this idea and make something similar. I have many beads I don’t know what to do with, I inherited them or someone gave them to me, this would be a terrific way to use them up.

Caitlyn the Mortician and an origami cat.

Friday, October 18th, 2019

I’ve spoken on many an occasion about how much I like Caitlyn the Mortician. Here and here, specifically. Snorth got tickets to see Caitlyn live on her book tour and since both Snorth and I are big fans we decided to combine our talents to make Caitlyn a present. We decided on a unique origami cat. Snorth folded one and I took it and drew spookiness all over it. I tried to make it special by putting the date and “4 C8lin” (“For Caitlin”) on the back of the head.

Then I unfolded it and smoothed it flat.

It turns out that all the illustrations were on one side of the paper which is good because you don’t have to worry about the front and the back lining up when it’s printed. I photographed the unfolded drawing and brought it into Illustrator and made a elegant crisp Illustrator file from it with some slight modifications so it’s wouldn’t be an issue if during the folding process things were not exactly lined up (Snorth called it paper creep).

After Snorth printed and folded the new Illustrator version I decided it needed some festive glitter so I took one of my nail polishes and jazzed it up a bit with a dotting tool.

Because unless you have fancy cameras and lights the glitter never shows up properly here is the nail polish I used, First Class by ILNP. You can appreciate the holo.

And Caitlyn loved it! Here is the photo of her and Snorth and Snorth’s niece.

I’d like to think it’s on display somewhere in her home or office.

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.

I am a hero.

Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

Did everyone have a nice Friday? I did not. I had a Mission: Impossible Friday. Let’s start at the beginning.

I received a letter from the DMV. “You need to renew your license,” it said. “It’s going to expire. Come in so we can do the thing.” Okay. I got all the documentation. W-2 with social security number, passport, mail from ConEd sent to me with my address on it, etc. Cricket made an appointment for me at 10:45 am so I could zip past all that sadness that the DMV is famous for. I arrived at 10:45am with all my paperwork. I totally forgot that they take your photo and I didn’t have my hair done or any makeup on but whatever, I’ll get in and get out and that will be the end of that. Who cares if I have an janky license pic. The picture-taking woman handed me a number, told me to fill out a form and wait. It was B366. The screen was at B317. Not too bad. I sat down on those uncomfortable church pews and waited.

AT 2:15 IN THE AFTERNOON they got to B366. I had – foolishly, it turned out – parked at a meter that only lasted an hour because ha ha! I was only going to be there for the wink of a dog’s sphincter or whatever. So every hour I had to panhandle my way around the DMV. “Anyone got change for a dollar? Hey pal, can you spare some quarters for a sad lady who hasn’t had breakfast yet and whose phone is at 27%?” When B366 popped up on the screen I scraped the moss off of myself (there was no air conditioning, it wasn’t cobwebs, it was moss) and approached the counter. At last, my task will be complete! Hurrah! The guy looked at all my documentation and said, “Do you have a birth certificate? Or a social security card?” I was like, no but I have every other document ever issued to me in the history of forever, look at this heaping pile of documents in front of you and rejoice, sir. He said, “Well, all your documents say ‘Jessica N Rothman’ but nowhere does it say what the N stands for.” I said Nicole, it stands for Nicole. He said he needed proof that it was Nicole. I said, hey let’s look at that license y’alls issued me and the one before that and ooo here’s my learner’s permit, they all say Jessica N Rothman, clearly this office is super-cool with this so can I go now please. He said no. He said if I can get back to the DMV with my birth certificate by 4:00 that day I would not have to come in again and wait for another billion hours.

This would be the time to press play on this video and listen to it while reading the rest of this story.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAYhNHhxN0A

I ran to my car, found the Port Chester Clerk’s Office on my phone (19 minutes away!) and drove there in great haste. I ran into their office (it was air-conditioned and for the duration of my time there I smelled less like an unwell donkey so that was nice) and asked for my birth certificate. I filled out the info. I gave the $10 fee. It wasn’t even 3:00. I was going to make it. And then all my dreams were shattered. The clerk that notarizes the printout wasn’t there with his punchy-punch. The clock was ticking. I told the Port Chester office people my sad tale and they called the notary and told him to stop doing what he was doing (I believe he was at Stop & Shop) and get back asap. He came back at 3:30. He signed. He punchy-punched. I now had 1/2 hour to drive about 20 minutes, not including traffic. I drove like I was powered by Satan himself. I may have honked at an elderly man to get out of the road. I pulled up to the side of the building, parked illegally and put on my hazards, tickets be damned. I ran up two flights of stairs and got inside the DMV at… 3:58.5. I did it with a minute and a half to spare. Now I had to stroll casually around the waiting area for a minute before dealing with my license because I was panting so hard and seeing black spots in my peripherals and sweating all down my back. I think the security guard thought I was going to die. Hell, I thought I was going to die. During my recovery period they indeed locked the doors and had I been late I would have had to come back.  After I collected all my organs together into a body-like shape I went up to a counter. I explained my predicament to the new guy and he said that I had all the things finally and I could get my new license. I might have wept with joy. It all was taken care of.  Then I saw my license photo and wooo it was unfortunate. I would describe it as somewhere between a walrus wearing a wig caught mid-blink and a cryptozoogical forest monster made of burrata with purple twigs where the hair should be. It’s not great. But it will forever remind me of the time I spent about six hours at the DMV and how grateful I am to not have to do it again for about a decade, praise the God of your choosing.

A break.

Thursday, February 7th, 2019

Hey, I’m going to need to take a break from blogging for a while. I have a great job opportunity on the horizon but that means I need to make a 200-page document explaining what I do so whoever follows in my position doesn’t come in blind. I will return as soon as everything is in place.

https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/1600/1*U1a0Zy6yBM_KSs7wOpBOFg.gif

Why I started chortling in the middle of 6th Avenue.

Sunday, October 21st, 2018

First a bus went by with this ad:

Immediately after a bus went by with this ad:

I don’t know why I found this so funny but I did so I’m sorry if you were startled by a purple-haired lady creepily chuckling to herself but there you are.

The internet has released its bounty and we are grateful for it.

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

1. In Amsterdam they were putting in a new tunnel near or under the Amstel River so whatever the engineers pulled off the bottom of the river was organized and displayed. Some of the items are quite old. I would fly to Amsterdam to see this if I could.

 

2. I don’t like horses normally but I would learn to ride just so I could ride this horse. Holy crap, this horse is amazing. I HAVE ARRIVED AT THE SUPERMARKET ON MY MASSIVE PREHISTORIC STEED. FEAR ME AS I PICK UP SOME ESSENTIALS LIKE TOILET PAPER AND YOGURT.

 

3. There’s an aquarium in New Zealand where they have penguins. Some of the penguins are good. Some are bad. Here are the reports.

       

 

4. These are all excellent responses if you’re transgender and you get that ever-so-common question. I heartily approve of all of these.

 

5. This is the best description of a thing possibly ever. I would like to be described like this. #Lovely #Skulking #Riparian #Denizen

 

6. Also from Audubon, an article about coot feet. I’ve always wondered about them and now all has been revealed.

https://www.audubon.org/news/better-know-bird-american-coot-and-its-wonderfully-weird-feet

 

7. Final bird thing: I saw this and immediately began singing Taps. Go with God, Chandelier Dove.

Bonus: An oldie but a goodie – When Obvious Plant renamed paint colors.

http://obviousplant.com/post/121284665608/follow-obvious-plant-on-facebook

Some good design. And some less good design. One might say garbage design.

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

I encounter a lot of design choices every day. Possibly no more than any other person, but I’m hyper-aware of them due to my career. I’ve talked about how I have binders full of design ideas that I collect in a folder and print out from time to time. So when I see good design it jumps out at me. And when it’s not good it also jumps out at me but it also vomits ectoplasm in my face like the ghosts in Ghostbusters. Let’s start with the good.

Some people have problems with their joints – they pop out, they’re too loose, they click and hurt. Normally they have to wear lame finger and wrist devices that are boring and sterile-looking, it’s an outfit-killer for sure. Which is why when I saw Silver Ring Splint Company I was impressed. Good for them, creating things of beauty out of necessity.

And now onto less good design.We’ll start with something light. I walk past a McDonald’s on my way to work and my distance eyesight is getting worse due to sitting in front of a computer all day so when I saw this sign I could not make out the “Our” smashed in between the “Join” and “Team.” I therefore read it in as a yelling Russian voice. “JOIN TEAM! YOU JOIN TEAM NOW!!” Until I walked up close to it and saw the “Our” I thought McDonald’s was getting a bit aggressive in their tactics.

Second unfortunate example: Whilst perusing Amazon or some such site I saw a banner ad at the top of my screen. I think they were going for a cloud with three bottles of Olay on it.

What I saw (because humans are predisposed to see faces in objects) was a wino who was down on his luck. Maybe just too many Christmases alone, or maybe his liver is finally giving out. I’ll zoom in so you can see.

Here’s a version I photoshopped to make it even clearer for you.

My point being my first reaction to this ad was not “I want to smear your fancy skin cream on my face” but more like “I am concerned about the homeless senior citizens is my area.”

The answer to this is easy: Never structure a group of products in anything that might be construed as a face. Three bottles in a row, decreasing in size. Simple. Non-facelike. I will make you a rough example.

See? That took me approximately fifteen minutes max and while it’s far from perfect you know what it doesn’t conjure in your mind? An alcoholic who looks like the physical manifestation of a defeated sigh.

Third and final failure of design: I also walk past Sax Fifth Avenue on my way to work and they change their windows up pretty regularly. Most of the windows are awesome tailored suits for women. I liked almost all of them. Look at this series of baller jackets and pants.

And nope. This is a hard nope right here.

Taking a shapeless garment and hot-gluing a bra onto the front of it with the hook parts hanging down ain’t gonna cut it. If one person says it’s fashion I will throw my shoe at them like that guy and President Bush, so intense will be my rage. C’mon now.

New York musings.

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

1. This past summer when The Moomins took me to all those concerts in Lincoln Center I noticed there were seats behind the orchestra for when there’s giant choirs. They were black chairs with with metal armrests which was fine when the lights were up.

However when the lights went down and the tips of the armrests caught the light they looked like creepy animal eyes peering out of the forest. I didn’t take a picture during the performance because I’m not a HEATHEN GARBAGE PERSON LIKE THE GUY IN FRONT OF ME DICKIN’ AROUND ON HIS CELLPHONE so I photoshopped exactly what it looked like. It certainly made the concert spookier which I consider a bonus.

 

2. I passed a pawn shop on 8th Avenue and the window was filled with the usual… and a giant tomato. I decided it was because the owner wanted the tomato to ripen or something, but it really drew your attention away from the merchandise.

 

3. I saw a really nice mashup of modern and retro. I was walking past a coffee shop and I saw what looked like one of the oldey-timey Edison bulbs, but the filaments were replaced by three rows of discs where the edges of the discs had wee yellow LEDs. It looked really cool. I highly recommend using it if you’re thinking about eclectic but environmentally conscious lighting.

I found a pic online. It’s called the Edison LED Fireworks bulb.

 

4. I don’t normally care much about fashion but Cole Haan has come out with sandals that look like lobsters. Not only are they lobsters, but they’re ombre lobsters.

I support this fashion movement and I hope that the spring fashion season is awash in color-blend sea creatures. See my previous three posts to understand my love of ocean beasties (it’s intense).

 

5. Closing with another weird store window: There is a sweet perma-Christmas store down the street from my job and they sell all kinds of charming trinkets as well as old hotel keys with the tags on them (I do love an old hotel logo). But in there window right now, monopolizing the whole left front section is a intentionally dirty handmade doll of the Statue of Liberty. I believe they were going for whimsical but it looks straight-up haunted. Haunted and stinky.

I can make you a badly sewn doll and then drag it behind me on a string through the streets of NY on a rainy day if that’s what you’re looking for in home decor. I don’t like to call people out for how they dress their homes but unless you’re running a Halloween Horror House and need to make a children’s room extra creeptacular I would say skip this one. You’re just asking for problems (and by problems I mean ghosts).