Weekly Adventure: Chill Thanksgiving Edition

I love Thanksgiving, complicated history aside, it’s a pressure free day where the point is to gather and eat a lot of food. This year lived up to my expectations completely.

img_7461

During food prep, Mom and Charlie had important crossword duties to attend to

img_7462

Dad made sure everything was safe for the rest of us to eat

img_7464

While Phia and Charlie actually cooked everything for us

img_7471

Nancy’s beautiful centerpiece (and the traditional scratch off tickets)

img_7479

Negaro/Dennett Thanksgiving selfie (though I personally like last year’s better…

The next day, while recovering from our food comas my mom and I watched all of the new Gilmore Girls and I have a lot of feelings about it. (Some spoilers below the picture.)

Gilmore Girls

  1. I continue to disapprove of Logan. Strongly.
  2. Rory may actually be (read is probably) a bad person.
  3. Emily Gilmore can be cruel, but she is also incredibly strong. (And I love her attitude towards the D.A.R.)
  4. Luke Danes, and Jess Mariano, are the best. It’s that simple.

We took a break in the middle to go with Dad to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Which is pretty wonderful. (Full review to come in the case of awards nominations and/or sequel reviews.)

On Saturday, I got to meet up with some Chicago friends in town visiting family and lay round watching football.

Sunday, my parents drove my back to Queens and I was able to show them around the museum where I work, which was pretty special.

img_7489

Mom in Noguchi’s garden

img_7496

I don’t think they tried to match…

And now it’s my favorite time of year! Happy Holidays every one!

img_7497

My neighborhood gets pretty into the season. In addition to these lights there are also speakers piping in (very loud) Christmas carols, which I’m sure will get old fast, but for now I find whimsical.

 

Advertisements

Weekly Adventure: Art Therapy Edition

I’m not sure how to start this post. I spent a lot of last week in tears and I am still pretty fragile. But, despair is defeat, so I’ve picked myself up and am working on being a proactive helper to those I know the new President and his supporters either don’t care about or actively hate. But in the meantime I have to take care of myself too. And for me that means movies (I saw Loving on Friday), books (I’m reading a great one about Yeats right now), and art. So this Saturday I pulled myself out of bed and used my museum employee free admission to see some art.

Kerry James Marshall – “Mastry” at the Met Breuer 

img_7367

Still Life with Wedding Portrait, 2015

What sadly serendipitous timing for this large exhibition of work by this African American political artist. A little boy in the elevator with me told his mom that he found the paintings on the exhibition’s first floor “scary,” I had accidentally walked through the show backwards (a mistake I make a lot somehow) but was surprised. The work on the second floor was powerful & (especially given our current political moment) sad at times, but not graphically violent. (Even his portrait of Nat Turner with his master’s head was remarkably restrained in my mind.) I’m not a child obviously, but I think we all need to be willing to be scared and disturbed by the injustices that work like Marshall’s depicts.

img_7362

Our Town, 1995

img_7375

Art of Hanging Pictures, 2002

This is part of a 2002 installation depicting life where Marshall lived on the South Side of Chicago. The depictions hit me hard as a proud Chicagoan in exile. I’ve been grappling with what it means that the places I love are so segregated and only safe for some people. Just like this piece. I don’t have answers for this, but the representation helped me to articulate it.

Agnes Martin at The Guggenheim 

img_7388

I struggle a lot with minimalism, especially in contrast to the vibrancy and emotion of the Marshall show. (Yes, I know the irony of working in the Noguchi archive and having a hard time connecting to minimalism.) But I always want to support institutions that give single artist exhibitions to female artists. So, Agnes Martin. Her work is technically astounding – all those tiny straight lines! – but most of it did strike me personally as cold.

It fit really well with the Guggenheim’s architecture though! And I very much enjoyed reading about Martin’s life. A Canadian immigrant who traveled between NYC & Taos, NM she worked to create and maintain a style separate form, as one wall panel put it, “the visual and rhetorical bravado” of the Abstract Expressionists. She endeavored to create “innocent” and “happy” work that she felt was life affirming, which is an inspiring project on its own. Especially given her place as a female artist who suffered from schizophrenia in a male dominated, abelist art world.

img_7384

Friendship, 1963

Vigil for Hope & Human Kindness – Not art I know, but certainly therapeutic

img_7397

I haven’t taken to the streets since the election, I have so much love and respect for my friends & family members who have and I’m sure I will join the soon. But I, as a person, don’t do rage well. (I think most people are anger-leading people or sadness-leading people and I am the latter.) But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been craving collective action and catharsis. So I was really glad to see this event in Brooklyn pop up on my Facebook.

I didn’t know just how much needed to cry and sing and plan with other people until I got there. On my way home I kept thinking about how we make fun of 60s activists for “singing Kumbuya” in the face of oppression. And sure, that song is silly, but the need to be quiet and still and take solace together is just as real as the need to yell and stomp. (And I really mean that, we need both.)

So, here’s the way we closed the vigil (well this followed by hugs from strangers, because cliche hippie stuff actually feels really good in the darkness.):

And now that I trust we are all going to try to take to care of each other – I’ll see you at the barricades.
 

 

Songs My Commute Taught Me

As I come to the end of my first week living in Queens, walking to work (or taking the Q104), I’m starting to reflect on the last couple of months, the majority of which I spent on a train. It was, for the most part, a stressful existence (though my parents were Godsends who made it as smooth as it could be), and I was basically exhausted for the past two and half months straight.

But there were some pluses. I read a lot, book and articles, I got back to inbox zero, and I caught up on all my podcasts, which means I discovered a lot of new music. Here are 10 of my favorite songs (and the podcasts that featured them):

Good AS Hell – Lizzo 

TBTL Song of the Summer (feels like a million years ago at this point…)

Why iii Love the Moon – Phony Ppl 

One of Jamila Woods playlist picks on The Dinner Party Download

Joan Crawford – Blue Oyster Cult

From the Joan Crawford series on You Must Remember This 

When You Were Mine – Lake Street Dive (Prince Cover) 

They preformed this on Chris Thile’s debut show on A Prairie Home Companion (which I have a complicated relationship with. I have a love/exasperation relationship with founding host Garrison Keillor, and I think it’s carrying over to Thile’s show, but he keeps booking all my favorite bands…)

Back in the New York Groove – Ace Frehley 

Look, I don’t like KISS, but Luke was in New York on TBTL and this is just a really good soundtrack song for a commute to the city.

Andrew in Drag – The Magnetic Fields

Another TBTL pick, this time for the other co-host. His name is Andrew, I don’t believe he has ever done drag though…

Smile More – Deep Valley

This was the featured music on Filmspotting a couple of weeks ago, and I fell in love for reasons obvious to any one who has read this blog, followed me on Twitter, listened to my podcast, or met me…

Capricorn – Friends of the Bog 

OK, this one is a total cheat. My friend sent it to me the other day on Facebook, but I did listen for the first time while on my way to work, and I think its beautiful so…I’m including it.

Birmingham – Shovels and Rope 

One last TBTL pick.

img_6893

The view from the train wasn’t too bad either

Weekly Adventure: Party People at The Public Theater

553x381_party-people_2

Despite living very close to it all summer, before last night I had never been in the famous Public Theater. But, now that I live in the city again I have restarted my theater lotto apps. It turns out the The Public offers free tickets to the first previews of their shows by lotto. I had heard through a grapevine that Party People, a transfer from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, was supposed to be amazing, so I entered and won!

I’ve been to shows in previews before (in Chicago), but never a first preview. It was exciting to think that I was at the actual NY debut of this show. (And of course the performances were already great, it didn’t feel like I was watching anyone rehearse anything.) I’m definitely going to take advantage of this program again.

OK, not onto the show itself. Developed by the ensemble Universes, who, according to the playbill, are known for mixing genres (poetry, rap, theater, political protest) to tell stories, the play looks at the legacy of the Black Panthers and the Young Lords (a Puerto Rican nationalist group started in Chicago that I had embarrassingly never heard of until last night.

hero-image_partypeople

There’s obviously a lot to unpack about the history and impact of 1960s radical revolutionary politics (I’ve took a class in grad school that spent weeks on it), and that may explain why this play feels like 3 separate shows mashed up and remixed into one. There are too many “truths” to attempt a cohesive narrative.

For the most part this strategy works, but as with any kind of collage there are parts that are more successful than others. And this is probably a personal preference, but up until the very end, I just really preferred the songs set in the sixties and seventies. They had a vibrancy and urgency and explained the history without feeling pedantic. On the other hand the frame narrative (a gallery show featuring interviews with former party members) never seemed to fully come together for me.

But, the final number, which brings together the two stories with a rousing chorus of “Give me land, bread, housing. Give me justice. Give me peace” was a powerful call to action (as in actual action rather than tweeting about the things you believe) that really resonated.

The show runs through Dec 11 in the Anspacher at The Public Theater 425 Lafayette St. 

Weekly Adventure: Falsettos

83116-1

Welcome back to regular Weekly Adventure updates! (This one is actually for last week…but I moved this Sunday so I should be back on schedule tomorrow. Yeah, that’s right, I already have an adventure planned for tonight!)

Anyway, last Friday night, my New York godmother (who I sometimes refer to as Baboo, because my brother and I have known her since before we could pronounce words properly) went to see the new revival of Falsettos at the Walter Kerr Theater. (Actually in the exact same seats that my mom and I saw The Crucible from this summer!)

Earlier that day I had read the New York Times review where Charles Isherwood referred to this production as perfect, which combined with my love for pretty much the whole cast (I mean, I hadn’t heard of the kid obviously, but Andrew Rannells? Brandon Uranowitz? Christian Borle? Traci Thoms!) had me excited but also worried (again) about inflated expectations.

And, honestly at first I wasn’t sure what Isherwood was talking about. Don’t get me wrong, it was good. And all of the actors were great. Especially Stephanie J. Block in her slow motion break down glory.

Falsettos

But it didn’t seem to be rising to the level of “perfect” anything…and then Act II started.

For a little background Falsettos is made up of 2 one acts (there’s also a prequel of sorts) about a man named Marvin (Borle) who leaves his wife (Block) for a man (Rannells) and their attempt to remain a family with their son Jason, despite this complication. (And the further complication that she then falls in love with the family psychiatrist (Uranowitz).) It’s a good set up for both comedy and pathos, and the first act zips along this path…

But the most important background fact is that the last act came out in 1981. And is about gay men. So, it becomes a gut punch of how this zany neurotic family deal with the crisis they didn’t even have the name AIDS for yet. While this is obviously upsetting (Baboo and I both cried all the mascara off of our faces), but it was also an incredibly moving look at what makes a family and how heartbreaking it can be to be in one.

So, in the end, I get where you’re coming from Mr. Isherwood. Act II is pretty damn near perfect. (And can’t wait to cheer for Andrew Rannell’s Tony Nom next spring.)