I was sitting on a bench starting to write some kind of poem and then I saw this crow kind of staring at me like he was trying to write a poem. We maintained some form of eye contact for what seemed like quite a while. So I just stopped what I was writing and wrote about the long staring match I had with this crow:
I’m 5 foot 11, pale skin.
I sometimes wish I were a better person.
Not often enough that I’d make a change.
Just enough that I’d write it down.
There he stands, dark in the day
Sometimes predator and sometimes prey.
He has somewhat a prance and somewhat a waltz
Somewhat an acceptance of his own faults.
The coat that he wears floats easy in the air,
I bet you could tell him that and he wouldn’t care.
He tilts his head, almost as if he’s trying to gauge.
If it is he or its I that is in the cage.
He wears a flack jacket like a suit of flight armor.
His eyes dance around like a snake charmer.
He takes off from a flat-footed stance.
In with a twitch out with a glance.
And then off into the wind
Fair-weather animal friend.
If I may, let me give you an umbrella suggestion… Either read a book or see a movie. Never see a movie of a book, and never read a book of a movie. It will never work out, its doomed. On the Road (as you probably know) is a 1950’s book by famed beat generation writer Jack Kerouac. In On the Road Kerouac captures the idea of what it must’ve felt like to live in America in the 40’s and 50’s. In the book, Kerouac outlines his time traveling all over the USA in search of a journey. The book, at times feels like an homage to the soul, and at other times feel tragically hip. This observation is from a modern vantage point. Reading this book in 1960, it probably felt like a transmission straight from the vein of the times, a thump of a pulse which might have felt fresh. Reading this book today would feel more melancholic and hungry for the days before over-nostalgia. Were things ever pure? I can’t say for sure, but in this book you come to the idea that Kerouac is experiencing (if only briefly) a real self-aware existence. I enjoy the vernacular in the book and find it pretty entertaining to see words like “dig” used in a pre 1970’s- hippy manner. If you asked me the theme of On the Road (book) I would say freedom.
As you may or may not know (or care) On the Road was made into a movie recently. Naturally, I saw this film. I was curious to see how it would be treated, which aspects would be left out and replaced with indy-film flair. “Independent” films can sometimes be overly preoccupied with credibility, or the idea of staying weird at all costs. This sentiment feels a little bit like the hollywood over-the-top feel that (as a viewer) I look to avoid (at times). This film’s ringer is that it features Kristen Stewart as a supporting actress. When I say “ringer” I mean downfall. I’m not a big Stewart fan (Sorry Vampire movie people) and her range of emotion seems to suck the life out of so many scenes. On the Road (film) was basically a misrepresentation of the book… a travesty. Kristen Stewart plays the role of Marylou and is the love interest of… everyone (she kisses or has some sexual encounter with just about everybody in the film…or at least it feels that way). Marylou is a small character in the book, serving more as the muse of Dean Moriarty than an attention seeking Dean-worshiper in slight competition with Sal. Without getting into the whole book and all the ways the film misrepresented it I will just say don’t be afraid to go see this movie, just understand that it shares only a few things with the book. Authenticity is not one. This is not an art piece, and certainly not a big thinker. It feels like a couple of guys thought they could cash in on the of-the-times uber-nostalgic culture. Don’t go to this movie looking to hear some great dialogue, or to see some amazing Americana scenery. This movie is preoccupied with injecting sexual exploitation into every frame in this film (in a bad way). Go see it for yourself, and then after you come to terms with the waste of your money… go read On the Road.
Calling Charles Darwin! Calling Charles Darwin!! I’ve found a store just for you! Well…maybe. Coming from the midwest I’m used to seeing dead animals mounted on walls and that sort of thing, so walking into Evolution in Soho I felt cozy as a clam…albeit a dead clam. Evolution is a novelty (I think) store in Soho, Manhattan. This store sells death, but death in a good way. Ever wished you had a cave bear skeleton for your living room (For any New York based readers: A living room is a large (yes large) space in a house for lounging and watching television etc. You know it as a bath/kitchen/bedroom) or a raccoon penis for the ole mantle? Evolution is just the place for you, they have thousands of different historic pieces like stuffed Ginea Pig, a rhino skull, pinned butterflies, and some dinosaur remains. This is the type of small store that is so packed full of interesting exotic stuff that you can walk in and stay for 45 minutes before you realize there is an upstairs. The staff is pretty passionate about the inventory though, so be slightly careful before you minimize the importance of a tropical frog. The pictures will tell a better story than I could so feel free to check em out and pick out your favorite stuffed, skinned, canned, jarred, or pinned animal!
Is it already 2013? It seems like it was 1984 just yesterday and I was being born. Time gets away from you. I think I should do something completely stupid today and you should too. Do something dumb that confuses somebody, then come back and finish reading this. Seriously.
Now, back to business.
Being in NYC during the end/beginning of the year carries a certain kind of weight, its like the weight of that ball they lower at the stroke of midnight. Speaking of that ball, I’ve been getting asked if I was in Times Square during the whole “ceremony” and I was not. There were over a million people gathered in the 25 degree weather. From what I’ve heard the crowd started gathering in the mid-morning to wait throughout the day for all the excitement. These are just a few reasons that I wasn’t too attracted to that particular event. I’ve heard that some people have it on their “bucket list” to be in Time Square at the stoke of midnight on the last day of the year and to that I say… huh?
New Years Eve tales are about a dime a million (new slang) and they are all the same in one way or another so I won’t go in to what I did in my last few hours of the year other than to include pictures. What I will tell you is a short story about my first few minutes of 2013…
Now before I go on I will say that I am not really some sort of animal loving person. I have no problem with them and I find some of them to be cool and others not, however there is no over-arching emotion toward animals. The best way to sum up my feelings toward animals would be this: I don’t own or aspire to own any animals, yet I think its messed up when people run over turtles.
So while at this public park watching fireworks at about 12:07 a.m. I see a couple of people sitting on a park bench with a dog (Labrador of the Golden variety) that is sort of standing triumphantly on this park bench (back legs on the ground, front legs on the bench, head high). He almost seemed pompous but I’m not sure if it was just me projecting. So I say “look at that proud canine” fairly audibly and then I kind of look at the dog then walk a few steps away and decide to take a picture of him. However because of the time of night I would be required to use the flash feature on my camera (phone) to get a good picture of this particular dog. I walk up to the dog and clearly take a flash photo of him, at this point the owners seem slightly confused and visibly uncomfortable (sort of looked away as if to be ashamed to even be a part of this insanity). I went on with the picture feeling that the dog was worthy of a picture even if the owners didn’t agree. I did not at any point talk to or attempt to pet the canine (this fact may have hurt my case) and walked away. Roughly 38 minutes later we were walking around in a totally different area and saw one dress shoe sitting next to a mailbox. Just one shoe, by itself… one. This, we thought, was strange. I decided to take a picture of this shoe and so I leaned down to get eye level with it and all this time later who should walk by but the dog and his handlers. They gave me a skeptical look and hurried past just as the flash was going off on this lone dress shoe. They scurried off before I could say “every dog has his day, or maybe more appropriately…year”.
How would you feel about someone blatantly taking a picture of your dog without first consulting you? Its certainly no more invasive than outright ownership. Would you rather someone take a picture of you on a park bench or own you and keep you on a leash? If I’m given these options I’m smiling and saying “cheese”.
2013 I think, is starting off well.
Certainly we are all familiar with the word tragedy, if for no other reason than the fact that we have heard/read it so much in the last few days. I’m sure it goes without mentioning there was yet another mass shooting in the past days, so I won’t say it. I also won’t detail the hearsay, possible motive, or supposed connections because I think we are already just a little too “informed” on the supposed facts around this latest tragedy. In the past days there has been discussion of why this happened, and the exact details and there will be much more information overload in the days ahead (As I write this I hear the TV in the background say “more Newtown tragedy coverage tomorrow”). We have reached a strange point in modern media when it is possible to over dramatize a mass murder.
Make no mistake, I think this whole situation is about as awful as it gets, but I don’t think I should have to use words like hero, and tragedy to get your eyes watery. I think it is possible for terrible things to happen without being the most terrible, and I think its possible for good things to happen without being the best thing ever, and I don’t think everything has religious undertones. I wish the modern media agreed.
I’m not sure if we are bored, or maxed out, but I believe that popular culture has reached a critical point. Most of the things we use these days are disposable (not always literally) and are generally made as efficiently as possible and devoid of creativity (houses, cars etc). In the same way, most of our “culture” is watered down. For example movies and music; both of these art forms have become muddled between their past and their uncertain future direction. The reason I think we face this odd time-period of over-the-top forms of art is because everyone is trying to break through the noise. There is no one left to shock or be shocked. There is nothing sacred enough to be desecrated. The lives of people are important and have meaning but we are so desensitized to violence and death that its hard to really “hit-home” without getting overly dramatic.
My point is that as soon as this most recent shooting happened there was a massive overload of media coverage and I don’t think that is necessary. Its almost like we are so bored as a society that as soon as something notable happens we just jump all over it and justify it by calling it sensitivity. I question how it will help us to know the motives of the shooter and I’m confused about why people think there were clear motives at all. To me there is really no motive that would clear this up. I don’t think we need a detailed report on everything that has ever happened in the life of the person who committed this crime against humanity, but we will definitely get one. Sadly, we will learn all about him.
Overall I feel that in a society that champions materialism and worships money so heavily over almost everything else it is sometimes tough to feel a real human element of existence. So when a horrible thing happens we use it as an excuse to recharge our human emotions a little bit before we go back to the busy lives that lead us.
Ok VYNL, I’m about to be a little rough on you. You were a good restaurant and all but I’m disappointed in you. You are in a pretty good spot, Hells Kitchen is a cool place to go and probably has some of the best restaurants in NYC (maybe) but you led me to believe you were better than you turned out to be. I have walked past your front doors many times on my way to other restaurants in your area and your modern and stylish exterior promised such a unique throwback style interior. It was only a matter of time until your oversized circular window with frost style “VYNL” lettering drew me in, I am after all a big fan of music and your restaurant name led me to believe you were too. I thought we had that thing in common, ya know I actually thought we had several things in common…you like to mix chick and waffles and I do too. To me VYNL, it was a match made in Hell’s Kitchen. When I finally decided to give in to the temptation of your menu that suggests you have numerous cocktails with Rock N Roll flair and gourmet yet not-too self aware food the experience started off well. I walked in and immediately noticed your wall of somewhat modge-podged Rock N Roll posters and flyers, at this point I knew we were going to get along just fine (I grew up in a room pretty much plastered with similar memorabilia). But once I walked past your one wall of Rock I noticed that you were much like all the other semi-predictable restaurants I’ve been to. Your service was good, and thats all. Your food (Mac & cheese/chicken and waffles) was good… just good. I felt no more like a rockstar than usual (which could be classified as very much) and other than the few pieces of pop culture on the walls I really felt as though I was in a… chain (overdramatic fake gasp). If you are a Rock N Roll restaurant that is lost on me. If your food is classic with an edge that was lost on me too. I’m not really sure I know you, but I’m not really sure you know you either. You seem confused. I do appreciate the pretty okay meal and I thank you for that, but I don’t think its gonna work out between us.
If you’ve ever been involved in a kick-line that spans a 100 ft (estimate) stage in front of 6,000 (approximation) people with 46 (blind guess) girls dressed in hats with 16 inch (fact… not really) feathers sticking out the top then you already know what being a Rockette is all about. If you’ve ever dressed in a nutcracker costume and done perfectly choreographed and synchronized moving stage formations then you already know what the Radio City Christmas spectacular is all about. For those of you who have not donned a santa costume and danced in a spotlight along side a crowd while a 3-D video projects out onto the walls and appears to be lunging directly at your eyes I will tell you a little bit about the “Christmas Spectacular”. There is a thing about this event that you might want to know before you book your tickets… the use of the word “spectacular” in the name is a little bit of an embellishment. Don’t get me too wrong here, it is a fun event that can be enjoyed by people of all ages but in some ways its like a made for television xmas movie. Those movies are fun (kind of) to watch during the holiday season as long as you kind of understand the paradigm in which you are operating… which is that everybody gets a little unabashedly cheesy around Christmas time.
For the “spectacular” we had seats in the back of the balcony (literally the last row) and that turned out to be a good thing. Why would the last row be a good thing? The law of diminishing returns…the views are so expansive that it really wouldn’t be improved much by getting in the first 10 or 200 rows and would cost much more… The views wrap around the walls and the stage is large so it is a fully encompassing show that plays to every seat in the house.
At this show we saw dancing, singing, acting, santa, and a 3-D element that played nicely with some christmas music coming from a live orchestra. Basically it was a variety christmas show that is as much about the event as the event itself. It is sort of like those things you do around christmas to kind of get yourself in (or keep yourself in) the christmas spirit. A certain electricity exists in a packed house at Radio City with christmas decorations all around and music in the air and it was palpable on this night. So if you are thinking of going to the Christmas Spectacular remember two things… “Spectacular” is a very relative word, and sit in the back row.