Friday, February 22, 2008

Snow, Snow, Snow: The Big Event right outside your door

A Man and his Dog. A throwback to an earlier time. No cars.

Even bicycles are out.

Dare to go where no man has gone before.

Nothing like snow in the city to turn everything into a wonderland.

Go Go Go: Jackie Sheeler and Jean Lehrman Saturday at Cornelia St. Cafe

Don't let the snow keep you indoors this weekend. Get out in it. You don't get the real "snow" experience online.

And you don't get the live poetry experience online either. Chicks are boss this Saturday at with a reading featuring the one, the only, The Jackie Sheeler (check out her cool new website and awesome blog get angry with me), PLUS therapist/poet Jean Lehrman (joined by bartender/vibraphonist Dan McCarthy), PLUS the woman with the voice of gold Jane Omerod, PLUS ex-stockbroker-turned-SLAM-finalist Phyllis Talley. To review, that's: Jackie Sheeler, Jean Lehrman, Jane Omerod AND Phyllis Talley, all on one bill. Whew! 

You'd think a hot line up like this would cost a fortune, but you can slip in for a mere $7. Such a deal! See you there: Cornelia St. Cafe, 29 Cornelia St., Sat. Feb. 23, 6-8 p.m.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Study in Contrasts: Greenwich Village Signage

Two signs within two blocks of each other: a true study in contrasts. What would happen if the garbage is put into the cans of 235 W. Street as a random act of kindness? Would it set the world in the right direction? Maybe that's why you shouldn't "ask what will happen:" if everyone knew what would happen, the streets would be spotless. And the garbage cans full. So it goes.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Eliminate the Silver

for Roberto Novo

I choose the single process
treatment to save time and money.
My schedule is so busy these days.

Crisply, I ask Roberto to "Eliminate
the silver." And we both laugh, knowing
that "silver" is the nice way to say "gray."

And we both laugh, knowing that "We're
not getting any younger," which is the nice
way to say we are getting older. Old.

And we both laugh, knowing that laughter is
the nice way to divert our attention from our
presence here, how little time we have left to

make it matter.

He applies color with the brush strokes
of an artist. Sets a timer for 10 minutes.
Scurries off to help another client.

Over a slow, quiet ticking, she tells him
what she needs. And they both laugh,
even as Roberto hands me the bill.

Which is a nice way to say,
the silver is being eliminated
in more ways than one.

by Kathi Georges

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Cafe Vivaldi, Greenwich Village

Last night, John's Pizza on Bleecker was way too crowded so we fell back on our contingency plan and headed for cute little Caffe Vivaldi on Jones Street. This tiny cafe oddly seems to attract budding hedge fund types (or as Peter calls them "ledge fund types," as in, if the economy tanks anymore they'll be jumping off the window ledge in high numbers!). Oddly, because it's a real down-to-earth kind of joint with live music, not the kind of meat market faux-techno shithole these assholes usually flock to.

Last night's snow kept the mood subdued, and complementing the mood was singer/pianist Jess King, whose Tuesday night residency continues at least until the end of February. King has a kind of sad, sweet voice that works well with her intimate original music about broken hearts and the self-commitment to dreams that generally seem to cause them in her songs. Blend Fiona Apple with Carole King and you get a pretty good of the style (maybe she's related to the latter?). It was perfect for the weather. And when she brought out a friend to join her on guitars and harmonizing, it was hard to believe that the song they came up with was written in the past three days via text messaging and email! 

The food at the Caffe varies widely in quality. Last time I was there, I had the ravioli which was nothing to write home about. But last night, I opted for the cheaper ($10) Herbed Chicken Panini, adding roasted red peppers ($1). Served with a salad, it's quite delicious. And considering there's no charge for the entertainment, I consider Caffe Vivaldi a Tuesday night haven. Maybe I'll see you there next week.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

You complain, you get results

After complaining about the lack of snow in NYC, what happens? Snow (see small flecks in above photo, and trust me!).

It's just been that kind of day.

At lunch today, I complained because my burger was overcooked. I send it back, what happens? I get a new burger, raw! And so it goes...

You complain, you get results, but you may not be impressed by what you get. Nevertheless, as mama always said, "The squeaky wheel gets the grease."

New York on Sunday: Warm, Global Warming, Marc Jacobs

Where's the snow? Here it is Feb. 10, in New York and no snow. It's 42 degrees. It's been 42 degrees all winter, except for 2 days in January. Where's the snow? Is it the global warming? If so, then it's not my fault. I'm anti-global warming. Have been for a long time. I am ready for it to end.

In the mid 90s there was a show on public television about global warming. They interviewed somebody from the oil companies who said that global warming was not necessarily a bad thing. "People actually prefer warmer weather. They can go to the beach, and relax in the sun."

If you listen to the weather "reporters," you'd think the oil company flack was right. They rave about warm weather, talk about how a day in February that is 50 degrees is "a nice day!" Nice? What's so nice about melting polar ice caps, rising seas, the total destruction of life on Planet Earth? Nothing nice about it at all, except that that the tourists will be standing in line at one of the six Marc Jacobs stores on or near Bleecker Street.

The other day I walked by just such a line (how they can actually line up for his crap is beyond me). I mentioned, slightly louder than under my breath that Marc Jacobs was sucking the life out of New York City, which he is. You should have seen the looks on their faces! They were shocked, and momentarily worried that perhaps they were standing in the wrong line. The look passed so quickly. But, for a moment, it gave me hope.

Friday, February 8, 2008

sign of the times?

Remember when people used to buy cars just to get around, and didn't care about keeping them in "like new" condition to maintain their "resale value?" This van's been floating around the West Village lately. Maybe it's a sign of thing to come: a downturn in the consumer mentality, an uptun in liberal values, a light at the end of the tunnel.

Or maybe it's just a prop for a movie shoot. . .

What do you think?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Review: Tchaikovsky's Pathétique at NY Philharmonic Feb. 5, 2008

The poetry of music was in full swing at Avery Fisher Hall Tuesday as the New York Philharmonic added another dimension to Fat Super Super Tuesday with a program capped by Tchaikovsky's final symphony: the mysterious, beautiful and mournful Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74, a.k.a. "Pathétique." And it was -- in a word -- "magnifique!"

The program's first half was admirable, with strong performances of Rossini's brisk "Overture to La Scala di seta (The Silken Ladder)" and Mendelssohn's "Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90, Italian." But it was the second half that compelled attendance, and the brilliant performance of Pathétique made it a truly incredible experience.

The Pathétique is one of the saddest, most heart wrenching pieces of music ever written. In Tchaikovsky's original notes for the piece, he sketched a concept that the symphony would begin with "The ultimate essence of the thirst for activity," leading into "Second movement, love; third, disappointments; fourth ends dying. . .Finale DEATH -- result of collapse." Nice place to start. In sum, this ain't no 1812 Overture. No canons, no fireworks, no wine and cheese crowd pleaser here. If anything, like the poetry of Charles Bukowski, this piece seeks to uncover the beauty of horror, not excluding slow, regret-filled, painful death. Under the baton of the distinguished Lorin Maazel, the Pathétique surged and swelled like a human heart, with its rich theme line still reverberating in my mind.

A word about the NY Phil: Imagine having your whole being moved by the sound of a single clarinet 40 yards away. Now imagine being moved by the Pathétique's instrumentation: Three flutes, two oboes, two clarinets and bass clarinet, two bassoons, four horns, four trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, cymbals, bass drum, tam-tam (gong) and strings. 

This is what the program describes as the instrumentation. It doesn't mention that "strings" means 30 (yes, 30) violins, 10 violas, 10 cellos and 8 basses. The dynamics were intense, even with the much-maligned acoustics of Avery Fisher Hall. 

The third movement, in particular, Allegro molto vivace, grew to a fevered pitch only equalled in intensity by the average male mid-life crisis. Oddly, half the audience was packing up and ready to hit the road after this movement, assuming, like so many commercials imply, that life is going to end on an upbeat note.

Wrong. As Tchaikovsky so brilliantly distills, all the build up of youth and middle age, is destined to lead to long, slow, sad silver years. The real challenge of being human is to see the beauty of these years, with the all the lamenting, pain and sorrow. Tchaikovsky manages this wonderfully, with a finale of despair, ongoing sighs, and a final fading away replete with a final few slow beats of a heart.

When it was over, it was difficult to move. Even Maazel seemed as if he wished the audience didn't have to applaud that we could all just stay there in this place of beauty without end, until the last vibration of sound died as we did... with great tenderness. Such wasn't the case. But, for as long as it lasted, it was a fine place to be.

One final note: Shortly after writing Pathétique, Tchaikovsky conducted its world premiere and died nine days later at the age of 53. His parting gift is one the world should treasure forever.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Tonight: Josh Humphrey at Cornelia St. Cafe

Tonight, Feb. 1, 2008:

A rare chance to hear a truly incredible poet. Josh Humphrey is one of those unique birds who writes poems that stick in your craw long after you hear them. He often writes in the voice of a woman, capturing female emotions with a strange and weirdly accurate tone. Recently, he opened up for Ellen Bass's reading with a poem inhabiting his grandmother's voice as she worked to keep his father awake after an accident with a discus. One of my favorites is "A Poem About Al Capone's Wife." He doesn't read live very often, so catch this unique opportunity. 

Plus, participate in the marvelous open reading, hosted by Kathi Georges, who promises to share new poetry tonight as well.
What: Son of a Pony Reading Series
Where: Cornelia St. Cafe (29 Cornelia St. between W. 4th St. & Bleecker, NYC)
When: Friday, Feb. 1, 2008, 6-8 p.m. (sign up early for the open reading, doors open 5:45 p.m.)
Cost: $7 (includes free house wine or beer)