Category Archives: General

The Sweet Part of the City

Seesaw street art installation outside the Cooper Union.

Okay, time to redeem what little coolness I have after yesterday’s mass transit/arcade post. Last Thursday after work, I met up with my roommate and one of her friends at Pianos on the Lower East Side. That place is kind of an organizational nightmare, with the concert venue in the back and just one poor person taking money, while hordes crowd in claiming to be on the guest list. Anyway, I did get inside (not because of any guest list, sorry), and caught the end of the Rassle’s set. They weren’t bad with their ear-friendly post-punk rock. Things got a little insane after that when Das Racist performed. The Brooklyn-based rap trio, accompanied by a DJ who had sort of a blank “how did I get this gig?” look on his face, were really talented and intelligently humorous. The crowd was a little terrifying when this person shot through like a bullet and then started wildly throwing their appendages around, clearing a circle in the middle of the room. Actually, the whole set was a little like listening to artillery, with Das Racist’s super quick and clever words. I think I’ll hold off on a military metaphor binge right now, but it’s so tempting.

Old Cooper Union building seen from new.

After Pianos, we went to Motor City, a Detroit-themed bar where car chairs are the seats and everyone drinks cheap bottled domestics. They had a chalk board by the bar where you could buy a drink in advance for a friend and notify them on the board. No one had enough clairvoyance for me.

Installation by Yin Xiuzhen at MoMA.

On Friday, I headed to the MoMA after work. As I was walking from Rockefeller Center past Radio City, I noticed a crowd down the street. Curious, I walked by, and suddenly saw the Dalai Llama leaving the building! I then remembered that he was making an appearance at Radio City. I was too awed to take any pictures, although certain moments I think shouldn’t be photographed and don’t need to be. He greeted the crowd, which cheered wildly, and then got in a motorcade. If ever there was a good omen, it must be running into the Dalai Llama on the street.

Marina Abramović at the MoMA.

The MoMA was having their free hours, but once I made it through the crowd I was able to wind my way to where Marina Abramović was doing her The Artist is Present performance. She is sitting in the atrium for the duration of the three-month exhibit (which ends this weekend), and there is a chair across from her where museum visitors can sit if they are willing to stand in line and aren’t afraid to have their soul exposed by her eyes. You can see a gallery of the faces all the people who have done it, marked with how long they sat in the chair, on the MoMA’s flickr. Some are crying, some are beautiful, some are creepy, some are wearing their best hats, some are probably museum professionals, some are happy.

Around the corner was an installation by Chinese artist Yin Xiuzhen of a minibus that was lengthened with used clothes. You could sit inside and listen to music and pretend to be journeying somewhere really delightful. I then went up the exhibition part of The Artist is Present, which was a retrospective of Marina Abramović’s performance art. There were videos and photographs and objects, but even more engaging were the live performances recreating her work. In one, two people stood naked in a doorway, so that you would move between them when going to the next gallery (or I guess you could just go around the corner). In another, a woman lay beneath a skeleton, with the skeleton’s rib cage rising with her breaths. And in another, there was a woman was standing naked on a wall, supported by just some plastic supports, her arms moving slowly up and down and concentration all over her face.

Emotionally drained (and operating on four hours of sleep), I went to the Henri-Cartier Bresson exhibit on the same floor. There were hundreds of photographs from throughout his career, and I was able to recharge my mind with their stunning snatches  of life.

For the first time in a while, I have nothing scheduled tonight so I’m taking it easy and I am going to enjoy a random film noir I got at the library. I don’t think our TV has been turned on in weeks. It must be getting lonely. The weather has started to get hot, but I bought an air conditioner today that should be delivered next Saturday. I know, I actually bought something and didn’t just wait to find it on the street! I need a haircut and some summer clothes, too. Well, one thing at a time.

Deluxx Fluxx

Deluxx Fluxx arcade.

Sometimes I really love the MTA. I get on my R-train, spend half an hour reading, and I’m magically a couple of blocks from work. I don’t have to sit in traffic and deal with tailgating SUVs or speeders cutting me off like when I commuted in Oklahoma. I also don’t have to be on a bus of high schoolers staring at me, the one foreigner and person over 18, like in my commute in France. However, today is one of those days when transit was just not in my favor. I got stuck at Lawrence Street because the train ahead of us had mechanical failures. I made it home (obviously, there’s no wifi in those tunnels), but I was already tired from staying late at work for a meeting and am now more like exhausted. I  had bad luck this past weekend, too, when the G wasn’t running, which is the only way to cut across Brooklyn. Lately, I also have a knack for sitting by super chatty people, as if the headphones and book didn’t give the impression that I wasn’t really on the train for the conversations. I’m probably just the most non-threatening person in the train car.

So that’s my mass transit musing for the day. Last I posted, I had returned from Oklahoma to New York. Later that week, I met up with Elizabeth and Eszter at Ost Cafe for coffee. We then walked to the Lower East Side to see this art installation arcade called Deluxx Fluxx.

Blacklight foosball at Deluxx Fluxx.

Made by artists Faile and Bast, the Deluxx Fluxx arcade was immediately exciting with its two rows of games and catchy electronic music and walls plastered in neon posters. Turns out that the music was done by Les Savy Fav, so no wonder it got stuck in my head. You couldn’t win or lose the games, but instead sort of interacted with them (for free!). In the back room, there was a foosball table and blacklight posters. It was insane! Kind of like if Oogie Boogie from Nightmare Before Christmas opened an arcade. I was my usual awful self when it came to the foosball playing. Although who cares when you are playing in a mayhem-driven place of sensory overload, where getting close to a seizure seems to be as close as you can get to winning.

New friend at Deluxx Fluxx.

Now that I think about it, the bulk of my video game playing hasn’t been about winning at all. I used to spend hours playing The Sims, mainly building giant party houses or setting up disastrous love affairs. I even made the Masque of the Red Death house from the Edgar Allen Poe short story, where each room is a different color ending with room with a clock, and threw a Sim party that ended much the same as the story, except with lots of oven fires instead of the grim reaper showing up. Me and my brother also logged a lot of time on the multiplayer level on Golden Eye on Nintendo 64. But we had a special version of the game where we only allowed proximity mines to be planted; no guns. So you would just run around wildly throwing bombs and the winner would have been exploded the fewest times. Then there was Star Wars Battlefront and Dynasty Warriors, both mindless fun with endless battlefields and abominable kill counts (I mean, you have to feel back about slaying like 300 wookies in one place). And now I just play the games I find in weird art gallery installations. Oh, and I guess at the Barcade, where I get angry the snake in Qbert.

Wow, a subway paragraph and a video game paragraph, I’m really on a roll. Um…less nerdy blogging ahead. Well, maybe.

Live on University

Journalism school graduation.

Here is the conclusion of my quick weekend in Oklahoma. On Saturday, we went to Tim’s graduation ceremony from the journalism college. I know I said it in the last post, but I still find it hard to believe I’ve been out of school for three years. I just really miss academia. I’m the kind of person who actually enjoyed writing research papers and taking tests. The best part of the year was when I got to buy my new textbooks and I would get excited every time I got to start reading each one. I’m sorry, I’m not the cool person that the living in Brooklyn and snowboarding might lead you to believe I am.

Singing of the OU Chant at the journalism graduation.

The ceremony was great, and afterward we went to a reception at the journalism college and then went to my old favorite Cafe Plaid for lunch.

Graduating sheep at OU.

And of course, there was more campus walking. All the statues were dressed up in caps and gowns for graduation, including these sheep by the library. That evening, we had a celebratory graduation dinner in Bricktown in Oklahoma City, followed by a walk along the canal to the land run monument. Sadly, the next day I had to fly back to New York. Tim drove me to the airport and I luckily missed the tornadoes and tennis ball-size hail that came down later that day. I brought back some red dirt in my suitcase that I plan to keep in a jar in my apartment as a way of keeping Oklahoma with me.

The flight was uneventful, although the night landing in New York was gorgeous with its view of the Manhattan skyline. I guess it’s just over a week since I got back, but it feels like a month. I’m still catching up with New York after slowing down for a few days. I promised myself I would submit my novel somewhere tonight before I went to sleep, so I guess I should stop procrastinating.