Friday, July 30, 2010

take-home lessons

Did you realize that Vincent Van Gogh was only 37 years old when he died? And Georges Seurat was even younger than that - like, 32 or thereabouts. And meanwhile, Picasso was still diddling his mistresses when he was 90.

That was one of the lessons I took home from the Met today. It wasn't explicitly written out or anything, but I put it all together. Oh - I also fell in love with Seurat's "Circus Sideshow." This image really doesn't do it justice.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

high line park

High Line Park is a place I'd never heard of before coming to NYC, but now probably my favorite discovery here. I came across it earlier today while wandering around Chelsea, looking for something to eat. It's an urban park in the best sense of the term: a once-abandoned elevated railway line, nearly demolished at one point, then developed into a green space following a local community effort starting way back in 1999. Only the first phase of the park has been completed, and it's only been open for a year, but it's still kind of amazing.

The park is visible from street level, but you have to go up stairs (or an elevator) to enter it. The rail line has been converted to a walkway and esplanade that will stretch for more than a mile once it's completed (right now it's about 10 blocks). Most of the actual rail line is gone, replaced by all sorts of grasses and greenery as well as wooden chairs and benches to relax in. There's lots of shade as well as views of the Empire State Building to the northeast and the Frank Gehry-designed ICA building a few blocks to the west.

The views are perhaps the greatest feature of the park. Since it's built at rooftop level, you see the nearby city from a completely different perspective. In fact, there's one larger seating area where you can look down and watch traffic as a spectator. When you think about New York, you might not consider traffic-watching to be a relaxing pastime, but in fact it somehow accentuates the peacefulness of this place.

I was in Central Park the other day, and it was great. It's always great to visit Central Park! But the High Line is a park for a 21st-century megapolis, using reclaimed space in the most creative and aesthetically-pleasing way possible. I look forward to returning to NYC in a few years, just to see how it's matured.

Photos will be forthcoming once I get back home next week ...

Friday, July 23, 2010

charles burchfield

I feel guilty about not blogging more about this city I'm currently enjoying! So a quick entry about an exhibit I recently saw at the Whitney:

I don't think I'd ever heard of Charles Burchfield before going to the current exhibit at the Whitney, which made this discovery all the more interesting. And he's from upstate NY, too! But the Buffalo area, not from my neck of the woods.

Anyhow, you can check out Wikipedia for all the details on his life etc. Basically, a 20th-century American artist focused primarily on natural scenes. However, he deliberately avoided literal translation of nature onto the canvas, trying instead to accentuate the fantastical elements he found there. He had a banner year in 1917, including "The Night Wind" (above) and a host of other works, but later went into kind of a dormant period while working as a wallpaper designer for a local company. But later in life, he revisited some of his earlier works, was inspired by them, and painted larger scenes around some of them. You might think he could've ruined some great work he'd done at an ealier age, but in fact some of these revised works are just fantastic.

So Charles Burchfield for you, in a nutshell. If you're going to be in New York soon, check out the show.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

big city livin'

So I know what a lot of you out there are thinking: "T-Shizzle, you're kickin' it in New York right now, true? So how's that goin'?"

Well, that is definitely true, and I've definitely been remiss in not posting more about my time here. Guess I've just been too busy with the ladies! (no, not really) Actually, I don't think anyone in the whole city has said a word to me, except for the bus driver. But I'm still keepin' it real. And I've had a few adventures. But this is a complex place, in a lot of ways. It hasn't been all fun and games, 24/7. Let me give you an example, so you can feel me:

So today, I decided to go this place in Greenpoint (near Williamsburg in Brooklyn), Peter Pan Donuts, that is reputed to have the best donuts in the whole city. So I decide to take the 62 bus out there, and go to the bus stop, and the bus comes about 15 minutes late. And the ride takes about 10 minutes longer than I thought. So I'm already running almost a half-hour later than expected, all for some donuts. So I walk to this place, planning to get a couple donuts and a coffee and chill for a bit, but every damn seat in the place is taken. Even though it's noon. Who eats donuts at noon? Lots of people, I guess, all because Tina Fey raved about this place in Esquire a few months ago.

So I get my donuts to go, and decide to walk to nearby McKarren Park and eat in the park. And keep in mind that it's about 90 degrees out. So I get to the park ... and all the shaded benches are taken. Geddoudaheah! I can't sit in the donut place! All I want is a spot in the shade in the #!*^!# park! But this is New York, and this kind of thing happens a lot.

But, you know, it was still a beautiful day. And a nice park. And I knew that after I finished my donuts, I could be at any one of a dozen famous places (Statue of Liberty, Yankee Stadium, Central Park, the UN, etc etc) within a half-hour. Where else could you do that??? Not Tokyo, that's for sure.

So how were the donuts? Well, I've never been much of a Tina Fey fan; and all I can say is, she was wrong again. She's obviously never been to Top Pot Donuts in Seattle, or even that little place up near Northgate Mall. But, they weren't bad. And if I'm ever talking to someone about New York, and they ask me if I've ever had Peter Pan donuts, I can now reply, "Yes, indeed I have" ...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

summer of the british mindfuck

Oh man, I don't think I'm ready for this! People, within a few days, this summer is gonna turn into The Summer of the British Mindfuck. You know what I'm talking about, right? Christopher Nolan's latest feature, "Inception," will be hitting the theaters, and I just know it's gonna fuck my mind right up.

He's done it before, after all. The year was 2000; the movie, "Memento." Remember that little honey? Man, it blew my mind right out of the fucking water. The whole thing went backwards! How the FUCK did he come up with that??? I don't know, but I get the sense that he's prepared to do it again. And check this out: he's got CGI this time. I don't think "Memento" had any CGI, except maybe for that one scene with Carrie-Anne Moss in the phone booth.

Jesus H. Christ! I don't think I'm ready for this! I'm still not quite recovered from "Memento." And you wanna add "Inception" on top of that? Holy horseshit.

I know what some of you are thinking: what about the Nolan-directed Batman movies? Weren't they British mindfucks as well? Well, you may have a point. But they also had the familiar Batman back story to keep them somewhat grounded. Who knows what insane hijinks are gonna take place in "Inception?" The sky's the limit, babies ...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

coping skills

Well, today was kind of a tough day for me here in the big city. I had a bunch of stuff to do in Manhattan, but a place I'd read about had gone out of business and then I went to the Cooper Hewitt Museum because they allegedly don't charge admission on Tuesday evenings, only to find the museum closed. And when I got back to Brooklyn, all I wanted to do was chill for a while at the neighborhood coffee house, but it was packed. And on top of that, it was really hot out today! I was just sweaty all day. By the time I got home, my shirt was half-soaked and it felt like I was wearing a wet diaper.

People, you know what you call that? A bad day. Fortunately, I've come up with my own unique way of dealing with days like this. First, I'll make myself a soothing and mood-boosting drink, like a green tea smoothie or nice chai spritzer. Then I play the song "Bad Day" by Daniel Powter a few times. It's so uplifting! Even though he's singing about a bad day, it reminds you that other people have bad days too, and that things will get better. Then, I usually snuggle into a nice hot bubble bath (or on a day like this, a cold bubble bath, LOL!). And then I'll curl up on the sofa and watch some TV. And if I'm lucky, one of my favorite characters, like Izzie or McDreamy from "Grey's Anatomy" or Carrie from "Sex and the City," will also be recovering from a bad day. Usually, this occurs with the song "Bad Day" playing in the background.

It doesn't always have to go exactly like that for me. Once in a while, I can make do without the smoothie, or the bath, or the candles, or even Izzie. But I *need* "Bad Day" to come down from a bad day. That part is non-negotiable, thank you very much.

Monday, July 5, 2010

an exorcism

Well, I've tried everything I could think of to shake the J-horror crew from my tail, but they're relentless. Still not sure what I did to stir up the wrath of these cyber-wraiths, except maybe for blogging too excellently. All I know is that something needs to be done; desperate times call for desperate measures.

Anyone even casually acquainted with the J-horror genre should know about the "hungry ghost" phenomenon. This is when a spirit shows an amazing tenacity in pursuing its prey; basically, the only way to throw off the spook is to divert it to a different target. Consider "The Ring": once you've seen the videotape and gotten the phone call, your only chance is to make a videotape for some other unlucky sucker to stumble across. That's it! There's no other way out.

So, I've got 3 words to share with this sadistic bunch that's been hounding me for months now: "Concords are better." It's an American blog even more modest than mine, if that's possible, and just ripe for haunting. The author doesn't even have the wherewithal to diss "Mr. Roboto" or the Japanese World Cup team, two of the more effective maneuvers I pulled to create confusion and temporary uncertainty in the spirit world. And he hasn't written anything in months! He's defenseless! Hell, there's even a link to the site from my home page. What more could you ask for?

All right, chijins, there's my offer. You can't pretend any longer that I'm the ideal target for your terrifying cyber attacks. It's time to take your ghostly business elsewhere. Happy stomping ...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

the circle of life

They're back! The cornflowers are back! The weather seasons changed last fall, and all the widflowers went away, but now the cornflowers are back. (Actually, they've been back for over a month now, but I've been too busy following the World Cup ...)

Nature is truly a miracle, isn't it? Wisconsin is gripped with snow and freezing temperatures for months on end, and yet the cornflowers appear again year after year. They're hardy, too! They grow like weeds. Such pretty blue flowers, and yet they grow like weeds ...

The tiger lilies grow like weeds around here, too. They're also very nice.

sweet, sweet success

Paraguay! Woo woo! Well done, muy muchachos! You strike the ball with such power and precision. The Japanese goalie truly had no opportunity against your thunderous strikes. You acquitted yourselves well, and struck a dagger into the heart of the Rising Sun, and now Asia is kaput in the World Cup.

Truly a momentous match. My hat is off to you, neighbors to the south. Woot.