Monday, March 31, 2008

Sporknotes and Other Worthy Improv in NYC

Improv is one of those random acts of performance that can have you hurtin' yourself with laughter, or bulldozing fellow patrons as you skedaddle for the exit. But if you want to see this ancient artform at its most skillfully wacky, then see improv in New York City. You've got the ticket-lines-around-the-corner Upright Citizens Brigade, fantastic site-specific Improv Everywhere, randy Peoples Improv Theater, legit National Comedy Theater, and of course just single comics galore. Really, you can't go too wrong with improv here.

I had the pleasure of seeing Sporknotes, an ensemble improv show by the Rising Sun Performance Company, as part of the Frigid Festival 2008. If you are in the mood for thumbtack sharp improv wit, all under the guise of a literary roundtable, then check it out. Essentially, the actors - all unskilled non-academics - do their best to improvise abridged versions of highbrow literature. I was fortunate to be there on the night when that great American masterpiece, The Little Engine That Could, was shouted out by an audience member to became the madcap plot outline through which eight or so actors tapdanced. Wackiness ensued, but so did political commentary, sexual innuendo and Transformers. Let's just say, it takes deliciously sick minds to come up with this stuff, and its pure delight to go along for the ride.

Hats off to the whole cast, who never failed to roll with the punches, even when they were below the belt. The show will have a more regular schedule soon, through Horse Trade Theater Group. It makes for a fun go-see, so if you can't wait go to a special show on April 11, 8pm at the Endtimes Underground @ Gene Frankel Theater, 24 Bond St.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

World Pillow Fight Day 2008

How the heck did I miss out on this? While I was trolling about the Whitney Biennial (more on that in a post to come) thousands of pillow-wielding hooligans were out on a sunny Saturday in Union Square, channelling their pent up angst into a massive pillow fight.

Again, New York City plays host to some of the oddest social gatherings ev-ah, and the World Pillow Fight Day ranks almost supreme. On the subway, my friend rode next to a pillowfight participant covered in feathers. Giddy, no doubt, from the experience of bonding with others over thwacking fluffy plumage-ladden bags at total strangers.

Don't you just love New York?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Elephants Trot Across Manhattan!

The circus came to town early early this morning, and they brought their elephants with them. The annual tradition in NYC is that when they arrive, pachyderms and humans alike march down 34th St. all the way from the Queens-Midtown Tunnel to Madison Square Garden. With beautiful beasts emerging from the tunnel at roughly 12:45am, its one of those latelate night, wackadoo, 'only-in-New-York' events that remind you of the unique joie de vivre this place embraces, matched with a hearty lust for revelry (and any excuse to act like a loon) that is rarely rivaled elsewhere.

Unfortunately, my camera was persnickety and the only half-decent photo I got was an out of focus elephant butt, so you can see better photos on Flickr and a video on YouTube. But let's face it - the site of an elephant marching through the greatest city on earth is something that must be witnessed in person!

Friday, March 14, 2008

For Blarney's Sake, its St. Patrick's Day in NYC

Being a redhead myself, with more than a drop of Irish blood in me and an obsession with wearing green, I've always enjoyed St. Patrick's Day. And in New York City, they know how to do the holiday up right. Every March 17, the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade hosts 150,000-250,000 marchers in front of 2 million spectators, making it one of the largest parades in the world. It is one of the oldest too, having been created in 1762 by a group of homesick Irish ex-patriots. Today, the parade features celebrities, the Mayor and other politicians, and tons of traditional Irish fare including folk music and dancing ginger-heads. Go check it out for sure as it travels up 5th Ave. from 44th to 86th St. from about 11am to 3pm or later. 

Note: For those who can't wait for the traditional date to celebrate all things Irish, Jersey City has an early day of festivities, usually a week or two before 3/17. Everyone goes all out, with green hair, fake red beards, and more leprechaun hats than you'd care to encounter. There are also tons of smaller parades and events around Manhattan and the boroughs to help you get your green on. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bye, Bye, Gov

This former DC-ite, that land of plenty where political scandals are concerned, has witnessed a doosey of one here in New York. Our Gov. Spitzer resigned today due to... uh... transgressions. I am super-pleased that Lt. Gov. David Paterson will step in, and also become New York's first black governor. I heard Paterson speak at the 92nd St. Y last year on the topic of stem cell research, and he came across as sharp, smart and outspoken. Being legally blind, Paterson has not only a professional but a personal interest in medical research and the politics that can hinder or help such advancement. Don't know about you, but I am quite pleased with such a nice improvement over Sir Spitz.

Friday, March 7, 2008

How To Live an Adventurous First Year in New York City (and Some Blogs that Guide You There)

Being a writer and blogger has been my lifeline in this town of total strangers, moving to New York City a year ago as I did desperate to come alive after, to quote a friend, "falling asleep in my life." Doing so jobless, in mid-life and knowing all of 5 people, blogging has allowed me access to all persons creative and cool, those intimidating folk who I'd be too shy to approach otherwise. Despite being a vibrant redhead with a high 'EQ' and a dollop of sass, fear makes talking to strangers about as appealing as chewing dirt, and makes me just as nauseous.

To survive in New York City, you must walk through fear. So despite its panic attack fuel, this past year I've interviewed celebs; reviewed dozens of plays by invitation; chatted up diverse likes of writers, comics, historians and Nobel prize winners; snuck in at the last moment to popular TV tapings and swanky cultural events; auditioned for cool voice over work; returned to my acting roots as an extra in an MTV promo; approached lit agents; started two, three, a dozen business ventures; handed out Dove chocolate in Bryant Park to make a quick buck; organized the home office of an heiress; had the time of my life temping at a major tv network; obtained clients eager for my interior design eye and was inspired to enroll in Parsons; been approached by a rep for my jewelry creations; partook of a hearing at City Hall for my historic block; started collaborating on a play with an admired playwright; interviewed for jobs glamorous and bizarre; and basically done everything I can to stay out past my bedtime. I've also had the pleasure of being connected with other writers and blogging observers of life, in this town and beyond. Recently meeting talents (and occasional NewbieNYC readers) from the UK and Japan have made me feel culturally broadened and even worldly.

I've had my share of heartbreak too, as only being open to life on the edge can allow. Tried the 'Sex in the City' version of dating with a smooth entertainment dude, only to find out over brunch with friends that he was also seeing another redhead at the table (what are the odds?) I got oh-so-close to jobs that were the culmination of dreams but sadly weren't meant to be. And most devastatingly, lost a friend to the horrors and torments that are part of the tragic underbelly of New York City.

But then I moved here to be open to life as never before, good-bad-horrific. So if there is any advice from this newbie, it is that this town is what you make of it. Get out and live as only this island allows-full on, frightening, but oh-so deeply fulfilling and fabulous. Falling asleep in your life here is just not an option.

NYC Blogs to Live By: The city is filled with opinionated, whipsmart writers, all just ruffled enough under their feathers to post honest, full-on rants on the city. Let these be your guides to NYC survival of the fittest. Be it the gentrification of town down-and-outs as frequently bemoaned on Hoover Factory (also a hipass music commentary) or the whimsical camera lens look at cityscapes on New York City Daily Photo, you've got blogs that assess the city to match any mood, 'tude or curiosity. Some of my other faves include: Walking Off the Big Apple, a guide to footpower 'round about town; NYC Taxi Photo and its unique take from a yellowcab window perspective; Miss Adventurous and her fresh-as-a-daisy view on life in NYC; Lost City and Jeremiah's Vanishing New York for their cynical keeping tabs on the bulldozers; Becoming a New Yorker's coming of age tales; Overheard in New York and all its 'only in NYC' quotes; and the mother-of-all-city-blogs Gothamist.