Sunday, April 29, 2007

Art as Food, Food as Art

Art as Food (for the Soul)
It is Tribeca Film Fest time here in the city, which means movies movies movies AND lots of events centered in Tribeca. I'll have more on that soon enough, as I'm slated to take in a few flicks and panel discussions over the next week. But to kick off my first-ever exposure to this cultural phenom, I joined a new friend on TOAST- Tribeca Open Artist Studio Tour. The walk offers an inside peek at artists in their natural habitat-their studios and living spaces. The art itself was of varying degrees of good, but then that wasn't the point. Really, the walk is about supporting and celebrating those that keep the crazy creative flavor of New York alive. Thank goodness for characters like Sam Wagner and his pet poodle, Yun Kyung Huh and her delicate pencil drawing collages, and all the artists that opened their doors to us curious folk.

Food as Art
Most of the time, I just eat to eat. But in Tribeca my lunch at Blaue Gans at 139 Duane St. was of a creative German bistro variety. Tasty and light Wiener schnitzel? You bet, along with other delights. Highly recommended. And my Sunday brunch at Artisanal at 2 Park Ave. featured a threesome of cheese (Fleu du Maquis, Livarot & Shropshire Blue) that was decadent and delish. Definitely a must-munch if you are into the artistry of fromage, especially the stinky variety.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

I Want Mo Mo Mo

Jaunted down and over to Ave. A (on the V train for goodness sake) to Mo Pitkin's House of Satisfaction for The Ritalin Readings, a series of short short rants by not-yet-widely-known-but-hip writers, bloggers and comics. The venue is good in that intimate nightclub sense, cramped tables allowing for many personal space violations (but in a good way).

I suppose any smaller venue, mass talent program always runs the risk of morphing into a horrorfest of self-indulgent ramblings. Luckily, this proved NOT to be the case at Mo's, an established venue for comics & musicians on the Lower East Side. And at 4 minutes each, any bad story would be over mercifully quick. With highlights from the Onion AV Club's The Hater columnist Amelie Gillette, comedian Kurt Braunohler, Chris Mohney talking about being fired from Gawker, and (my favorite) comic John Mulaney hysterically mocking the cartoon millionaire that is Trump, the night was an entertaining exploration of a uniquely NYC performance space. Oh, and being surrounded by hipster 20-somethings gave me a taste of what it would have been like if I'd moved here 15 years ago!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Spring, Spirit & the Shake Shack

It is officially SPRING in New York! The sidewalk cafes are full, the dogs are out in force & the park ponds are filled with rowboats. So yesterday was spent almost entirely outside at Madison Square Park for a visit to the Shake Shack. Heavenly yummy burgers, dogs, fries and FROZEN CUSTARD (oh my, oh my my my). The line goes half way around the park, but it is worth the wait. The prices are CHEAP and standing in line on a gorgeous day ain't half bad. And you get to check out the cool public art & music!

Early morning was spent with the lovely Rev. Kimberleigh Jordan at Marble Collegiate Church for the second Art & Soul talk. This Sunday's guest was Mary Gordon, renowned author who often explores Catholicism in novels like Spending, Pearl & Final Payments. This extraordinary Q&A offered intelligent insight into the creative process. When speaking of the balance of discipline & creativity, Gordon likened the muse to a horse that galloped 'round and 'round her house, but if she wasn't standing ready at the door she would never be able to jump on its back. I could go on and on about her brilliant comments on society, the rising cost of living in NYC, the need for discipline when the passion for writing is not fed... but to get a real sense of her spirituality, talent and intelligence it is probably best to read her work.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Been meaning to get to a TV show taping, so I was thrilled to score tickets to The Late Show with David Letterman! My friend Ann and I went for the second taping on Monday and had a blast. The show is filmed in the famous Ed Sullivan Theater at 54th & B'way, and you can get free tix by signing a form and keeping your fingers crossed that you win in their lottery system. No, I did not offer bribes!

The show was awesome-high-energy, fun, funny and filled with wacky bits. Guests were Jessica Biel (she was sweet), Ira Glass from This American Life (awesomely funny) and Regina Spektor as the musical guest (great piano). No Stupid Pet Tricks, but loved Will it Float, Fun Facts and the famous Top Ten list. And of course it is great seeing an icon like Letterman do his thang.

Check out the show on CBS this Friday, April 20. Keep eyes peeled for the redhead sitting six or so rows back from the band!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Feeding the Soul & Feast for the Eyes

Art & Soul at Marble Collegiate Church: Located on 5th Ave. at 29th St., this church had Norman Vincent Peale as it's pastor for 52 years. Gorgeous building, wonderful programs. The Q&A focused on following the spirit in creative practice, and featured Tony-award winning actor Jeffrey Wright, perhaps best known for his title role in Basquiat. He also won acclaim in Syriana and Casino Royale. Wright gave great examples of following a calling/spirit/muse (name it what you will) in his art and the struggles and rewards that presents. In our brief discussion afterwards, it was nice to learn he grew up in D.C.

The Photography Show 07: An amazingly huge, glorious presentation of a diverse array of photography at this annual show, hosted by AIPAD. Many famous photographs by artists you know and love (Cartier-Bresson! Arbus! Man Ray!) and others not-so-known-but-soon-to-be-loved (Fontcubeta! Titarenko! Davis!) Around 90 galleries represented from all over the world, thousands of photos displayed, all genres, sizes, eras, scenes. A great treat for the eyes on a day when the heavens decided to open and let the waterfalls out to play.

Similar note: Hoover Factory posting on photog Chris Jordon. Neat-o!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Food, Glorious Food

This is a town of foodies. Even my local Pioneer 'Super P' grocery store and my beloved West Side Market have better cheese selections than anything I've ever been privy to. But my favorite cooking/foodstuff/coffee destination is Zabar's on Broadway. There may be debate among Upper West Siders about which ranks higher-the infamously crowded Fairway or the space-challenged Zabar's-but I'm just partial to the cheap & chic housewares collection beautifully displayed on Zabar's second floor. Here is a photo homage to the grand design of it all.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Uber-Hip Humor at Symphony Space

Tonight was my first exposure to the beloved UWS cultural destination Symphony Space, the perfect venue for a diverse array of performance.

Sometimes comedy can really stink. But The World, Explained was a benefit for 826NYC and 826LA, and had the hippest, coolest line up ev-ah. First, the mistress of ceremonies was none other than Sarah Vowell of This American Life. The host was Eugene Mirman, who demanded we write of his improv bits in our blogs (obviously, I follow orders). And the line up?

  • John Aboud of Best Week Ever gave a great account of his high school highlight on Battle of the Brains, which took me back to when my smartypants sis Julie was on It's Academic!
  • David Rakoff, also of This American Life fame, went on a hysterical rant against the musical Rent
  • John Oliver from The Daily Show gave a great rift on how a sports 'accident' led him to comedy, and
  • Rodney Rothman gave the inside scoop on his creation of the faux boy-band Fresh-Step for Letterman
I may have been one of the oldest people there (the audience was filled with geek-chic 20somethings) but I laughed so hard my face hurt. Choice humor for a good cause - doesn't get much better than that.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

I Am Not a Crook

Growing up around Washington, D.C., I got used to things political being hometown news. So it was with a bit of nostalgia that I caught the 2pm matinee of Frost/Nixon. Based on the David Frost interviews with the disgraced ex-prez, the play examines the psychological ping-pong game in the mind of Watergate's tragic hero, eliciting some sympathy on my part. The performance by Frank Langella is stellar, with just the right physical & vocal nuance of Nixon without veering into caricature. And Michael Sheen as Frost? Oh, delightful. You might know him from his recent turn as Tony Blair in The Queen. The writing is entertaining and smart.

Now, I confess that I had a baby crush on Langella back in his Dracula days. I'm happy to say that these many years later, even as the beauty-challenged Nixon, his talent makes him forever crush-worthy.

Scoop: Other must-see theater as recommended by the real-live-New-York actor sitting next to me: Coram Boy and Journey's End. Might just check 'em out...

Monday, April 2, 2007

Spalding Gray is Alive & Well and Living in the Village

The spirit of Spalding Gray lives on, thanks to the genius production Stories Left to Tell at the Minetta Lane Theater in the Village. The show combines known and never-before-performed tales by this stunning storyteller, told by five exceptional actors (Josh Lucas was the guest performer the date I was there). While the play ends with a brief exploration of Gray's reasons for suicide (chronic, intense depression after a debilitating car crash), its core is the wry, witty observations of life that made Gray the philosophical chronicler of our time. GO SEE THIS PLAY!

Added Bonus: Vanessa Redgrave was there too, and my friend Ann and I chatted about the play with her and the Obie-winning actress Kathleen Chalfant in the lobby. Was able to tell them both how much I enjoyed and appreciated their performances (Redgrave in The Year of Magical Thinking, Chalfant in Stories). Awesome. Actors were also taking donations for Broadway Cares: Equity Fights Aids-one of NY's coolest charities. Give what you can.