It is time for a post of miscellanea from the last month, catching up on some things that I won’t have time to make individual posts on. In case you have not been watching the national news, let me tell you that New York has been having a heat wave for the past few days. The only reason I think this is news is because many of the journalists live in New York and have to suffer on the subway with the rest of us, showing up to work disgruntled and in need of a story. Considering Oklahoma regularly gets above 100 in the summer, I shouldn’t be complaining about mid-90s heat (although it has certainly gotten up to Oklahoma temperatures here). Still, the humidity is suffocating and my attempts at saving money by only running the air conditioner at night can make for some midday misery. But the worst is the subway. Waiting on the platforms with people standing too close and what feels like an industrial heater pouring over your body. I can’t wait for fall. Although time is passing quick enough as it is.
Way back during the last weekend of June, Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg was closed off to traffic for the Williamsburg Walks event. Pedestrians milled in the streets drinking fancy sodas and kids had most of the fun with games and miniature pools. There were also small art installations, including the above viewfinder (sporting the ubiquitous Williamsburg moustache) that you could look through into a window that was playing a video of you looking through the viewfinder.
Of course the most popular attraction by far at Williamsburg Walks was a husky puppy sitting in a shrine. There was actually a line to pet its furry body. We had delicious bagels and then I spent some time reading in McCarren Park. I think I saw just about every sport imaginable: baseball, softball, soccer, kickball, handball, roller skating, skateboarding, throwing catch, hula-hooping, basketball…am I missing anything? And it was all played by people I’m sure tried to skip gym class at any chance in high school. Another night while a friend was visiting, we watched almost a whole kickball match in McCarren. It was surprisingly entertaining. And I sadly think I could be one of the better players out there. And my hand eye coordination regularly results in stubbed toes from dropped items and tripping over my own feet on flat ground.
As I mentioned in my Make Music NYC post, 60 pianos were installed around the five boroughs of New York from June 21 to July 5. I enjoyed coming across them while wandering around the city, spotting them near the Grand Army Plaza library or in a Chelsea square or by the subway kiosk in Astor Place. I saw the above piano in Tompkins Square, with a cluster of jazz musicians and a random man over the fence helpfully reading the music. Sad to see the pianos go, but I guess it is good for them not to stay out too long and slowly decay or get destroyed. Surprisingly, I think only one up in Queens was mutilated during their run.
I celebrated the Fourth of July on a roof in the East Village, where we could see the edges of the fireworks on the Hudson River. There were some renegade firework shows around us that were more visible and we had watermelon drinks and listened to music.
Other evidence that I’m not a recluse: I went to the Mini-Fridge theatre night at Under St. Marks, a tiny theatre almost hidden down some stairs in the East Village. I saw a one-woman play called Vodka Shoes about a traumatic childhood, that was a lot more entertaining than it sounds. Then there was the Canuck Cabaret where Canadian theatre people did monologues and comedy, which I usually can’t stand, but it was fun. Sadly, I think this was my first theatre experience of 2010. I guess I am out of the loop with the scene here. Or I’m just much more the free drink and art gallery opening person these days. I don’t think I’ve really latched onto a scene here, although going to free concerts lately I’m definitely starting to see the same people.
For Bastille Day, we stopped by Rapha, a trendy pop-up bike club (as in bicycles). They were screening the Tour de France and had champagne and delectable French cheeses. I saw that the Tour recently went through Bourg-les-Valence, which is the suburb of Valence where I lived in France. I also wrote a mini-thesis on André Chénier for Bastille Day, comme d’habitude.
Last Thursday, we went up to the Flux Factory to see two urban explorers talk about the Paris catacombs. Considering I wrote an entire novel that takes place in the catacombs, that I mostly made up in my head complete with haunting giant squid, I thought it would be interesting. I had no idea that there was such a community of people who explore the Paris underground. Moses Gates and Steve Duncan gave a really good presentation on their time in the catacombs and a sort of introduction into exploring, if you are brave enough to go into the dark realm of the dead.
Well, those are the details, grander stories to come. I got back Sunday night from a weekend trip to Philadelphia and will be heading to Kansas and Oklahoma soon. Trying to satisfy my wanderlust.