Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Years in New York 2009

It just started to snow outside, beautiful big flakes, the kind that always remind me of the snowy day 15 years ago when I got out of my parents car with my wailing kid Miles strapped to me. We were in a rush and I had to pick something up at my apartment, so I was trying to ignore the high pitch blare that was emanating from about chest level, not an easy feat. It was snowing, those big beautiful flakes, and as I fumbled with my keys at the front door, a snow flake fell on Miles' face. He blinked in surprise, took in a deep breath to let out yet another howl, and this time a snow flake fell in his mouth. This made him look up at the snow and as some more flurries fell on him, he began to laugh. All this was in the space of seconds - the kid went from a scary red-faced, snotty scream machine to happy chortles in the amount of time it took for five snowflakes to descend on him.

I'm about to run out and see if I can find some inexpensive sparkly thing to wear tonight. As usual, New York's got about a billion things to do. I always think it's crazy that some people will pay $300 for dinner and some champagne. Don't they know the best parties are the cheapest? But we're broke so I think even $30 tickets are out of the question, though Rubulad and Shanghai Mermaid both sound like they'll be great fun tonight. I think we are opting for a starving artist night out. Midnight fireworks at the Brooklyn Promenade perhaps? Some friends are coming over, so I guess we'll make some dinner and then maybe run out to catch NUTCRACKER RATED R, a dance/theater piece at Theater for the New City that mashes up the old Nutcracker ballet. Apparently in this one, Clara is a bored teenager and her uncle Drosselmeyer takes her back in time to NYC circa 1983. The choreography looks great and it sounds like a lot of fun - I am imagining a big guy in a pink tutu playing the Sugarplum Fairy doling out sweets to some wacked out club kids.

Wonder what they'll make of the 1980s in New York City? I looked at the cast list and doesn't seem like anyone was here then. The other night Matt and I went to Webster Hall for Gogol Bordello with some out-of-town friends. He took us around to show us all the new bars he's built for the place and we stumbled onto a party with a 1989 prom theme. It's wild that the 1980s are being romanticized now - hey, I was supposed to have graduated in 1989! And it was definitely not all campy fun. But I do like what a writer in the New York Times said in an article about the film RENT - he was comparing RENT with his memories of the East Village in the 1980s and he mentioned a sense of urgency that doesn't exist now. To me, that's why we all miss the 1980s, particularly the East Village of that time. Everything seemed more possible - there was such neglect in the neighborhood, it was all up to you what you would make of it - but it was also obvious that this vacuum wouldn't last. Maybe that is romantic then - this sense of something fading even as you live it.

Gogol Bordello was great fun as usual. The dance floor flexed up and down in a scary way as everyone pogoed to the music. I took one very blurry picture of Eugene Hutz saying something that no one could understand, but sounded great nevertheless.

The snow stopped now... guess I should throw the cat off my lap and get myself outside before the afternoon is over. Goodbye 2008, hello 2009!

The End of an Error Masquerade Ball
Rubulad Home Base
338 Flushing Avenue, at Classon, Brooklyn
B61 bus to Flushing Avenue
G train to Classon station
10p doors, 11p show; $20 before 11p, in costume, or way late, $30 otherwise

Shanghai Mermaid
1930s Weimar/Shanghai party
16 Main Street, Brooklyn
8p-all night; $35 advance, $40 door

Nutcracker Rated 'R'
closes 1/3/09
Theater for the New City
155 First Avenue
Weds-Fri 8p, Sat 3p & 8p; $20 adults, Sat matinee Pay-What-You-Can

Thursday, December 25, 2008

End of the Year, End of Take Two

This blog has languished for a year and a half as I struggled to establish Take Two. It's over now, after 11 plays and films featuring about 60 actors, some of whom I've admired for years. Getting people there was always a struggle, though at the end, it did seem like I could expect a very small audience without working too hard at it. And funding became a huge ugly monster of an issue. It's Christmas and I'm totally flat broke after Take Twenty-Two, the summer trip to Taiwan with my family, and the huge bust of the capitalist system in the last few months. My sentiments about Christmas this year are fully expressed by the feline below.

So blogging - well, I've been writing in this journal, mostly complaints about money that no one would be interested in. But I did manage to go see WALTZ WITH BASHIR the other day, courtesy of IFP's lovely membership program that allows starving artists like moi to see films for free before anyone else gets to.

Ari Forman's film is an animated first-person documentary about his journey to unearth long-suppressed memories of the massacre at Sabra and Shatila after being goaded by a friend's eerie nightmare. When I say animated, I don't mean there are animated sequences that illustrate a particular point or give levity to a historical lesson that would otherwise be really dry. The whole thing is animated like a comic book or a really great graphic novel, including Forman's memories and surreal dream of the massacre, the memories of his fellow veterans, and interview sequences that looked like they were drawn straight from video footage. Though it was beautifully done and certainly emphasized the storyline of the documentary, I did feel that the animation was one more step more in removing the audience from the brutal reality of the subject. I understood the poignancy of the film, but it didn't leave me angry or sad or upset in any way, and I'm the kind of sucker that cries while reading the New York Times. I wonder if the film would have packed a bigger visceral punch if there was more of the unvarnished footage that was glimpsed briefly at the end. On the other hand, the subject is so dark that maybe it would have just been unbearable to watch. At any rate, Forman is one gutsy director, who does the politically unthinkable, connecting the Jewish trauma of the Holocaust with the blithe viciousness of Israeli policy towards Palestinians. It's unfortunate that the film will probably preach to the converted, rather than people who are resolutely blind to the human rights abuses and atrocities committed by Israel.

Ari Forman, director of Waltz With Bashir and his doppelganger in the film:

Speaking of human rights abuses, I've been depressed about Taiwan and how there seems to be a total media blackout in the West on how the KMT seems to be quietly removing anything that might make it difficult for China to absorb the island like it never existed as its own entity. It's making me question the importance of national identity - does it matter that I consider myself Taiwanese-American? Does it matter that others consider themselves American or Senegalese or Jamaican or Mexican? The thing is, that Taiwan lacks identity in the Western world. When you think Senegal - okay I don't know THAT much about Africa - but I get the picture of African drumming, I think it used to be French, I think of grasslands. I'm refraining from googling Senegal so this could be totally wrong - okay, Senegal is probably not the best example since it's also a bit hard to define - but Jamaica or Mexico is easily identified by distinctive music, traditions and food. But Taiwan? The only thing anyone in America connects it with is cheap manufacturing.