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.

Works Progress: Opening Today!

Chicken tractor installation in Works Progress.

Hey New York readers! Tonight is the opening of “Works Progress” at the Invisible Dog in Brooklyn (51 Bergen Street). I have been helping Recession Art organize the exhibit and would love if any of you could stop by. Information is on our site. I realize that’s not possible for many of you, so you can see some of yesterday’s installation process below:

Fabric inflatable sculpture.

Lighting the money shrine.

Denim fiber art.

Rotting vegetable portraits.

Shrine candles.

Money shrine.

Chess set made from cutlery.

Teapot paintings.

Candle Light

A Philip Lumbang bear in the East Village.

Another weekend reached and another snowstorm has hit New York. Except this snowstorm is slightly less charming that the previous ones, as there was a whole day of slushy rain before the snow so now there are deep, icy puddles around all the curbs, hidden by deceptively shallow-looking water. I mainly worked and watched the Olympics this week, and ordered a souvenir Quatchi because I rarely buy myself anything and it’s a Sasquatch wearing earmuffs!!

Candle light (books are my roommate's).

This Thursday, I came back from work to find the power out in my apartment. Outside, there were electrical workers in hazmat suits and several firetrucks on the street. The manhole cover was open and there was yellow tape surrounding it. It was snowing and freezing cold outside, but I decided I would go grocery shopping and come back, hoping the power when then be on. It was not. So my roommate and I lit candles in the living room. It got to around 11 pm and the power was still off, so I decided I would just go to sleep. (I had already failed to read with a flashlight, apparently I can’t survive in a world without electricity.) I don’t know when the power came back on, but I woke up at 3 am with the lights on.

Snow on Fourth Avenue.

There were several inches of snow on the street yesterday morning, and more snow continued to fall throughout the day. The $10 I spent on waterproof boots was one of my best purchases since coming to New York.

Narrow trail through the snow.

I guess it was a rather slow week, because aside from the snow, not much worth blogging happened. I did watch Paranormal Activity with Arya, although it was much less scary than I was hoping. The alternative ending was the most disturbing, but otherwise it seemed like a mild episode of Ghosthunters. This was accompanied by some wine from Orange, France, which I brought purely due to my memories of Provence. There was also a bottle of wine from Tain l’Hermitage that was on sale, which almost made me cry with nostalgia for the town’s delicious chocolate and hills of vineyards.

Snow on some street objects.

I’ve gotten back into Pandora, the online radio music genome, after being away from it for a couple of years. I have a few stations that I listen to while working. Sadly, my music tastes seem to be easy to predict, as my Mountain Goats, Jeffrey Lewis, Rogue Wave, Destroyer, and Flaming Lips stations all sound almost exactly the same. And it correctly added the Weakerthans, Radical Face, Frightened Rabbit, and even more obscure artists like Noise Addict. Often my music gets the “distinctive male vocal” description (all those off-key singers I love), “mixed acoustic and electric instrumentation,” “extensive vamping,” “intricate melodic phrasing,” and “acoustic sonority.”

Cooper Square in snow.

The coming week should be interesting, and I’m very excited to be seeing Rogue Wave again, this time at the Bowery Ballroom. Last time I saw them was at the Opolis in Norman, a really intimate venue that is dead silent when the band plays. People whisper during songs and listened to “Eyes” with as much reverence as I’ve ever seen at a concert. It will be interesting to hear their new music, which is more dancey.

Winter weather hits Union Square.

Earlier in the week, I stopped by the Housing Works bookstore and found a copy of Kafka’s The Trial for just 50 cents. We’ll see if I make it through that. I saw someone reading it in a falafel place in Williamsburg, although that could have just been for looks. Who knows, people probably think that about me when I’m reading Dostoevsky or Joseph Conrad on the subway. But I guess I like to pick complicated books when I’m stuck underground, because I’m forced to read them.

Giant snowmen in Union Square.

While walking in Union Square, I saw quite a few great snowmen and a some snowfights. And kids banging on a pile of snow with sticks, but kids are strange like that. The best snowmen by far where these two giant ones this group of people built. And one was wearing a stylish bow tie. It puts my snowmen building skills to shame.

Roof cat in the snow.

It seems that the roof across from me has turned into an ice rink, but the cats are still out carefully walking through the snow. I accidentally set off the fire detector this morning when trying to make pumpkin pancakes, but luckily my roommate is in Puerto Rico so I guess I only annoyed my neighbors. There may be more snow today. Apparently Central Park has received more snow this month than any other month of the past 114 years. There has to be a lot of snowmen there.