Thursday, November 30, 2006

Seagulls


Walking to the gym at 6.25 this morning, I heard seagulls . . . a delightful little reminder that Manhattan is, among other things, an island.

[Photo: www.hep.man.ac.uk/u/christina/Elba.html]

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving



There's something to be said for spending the holidays in the city, particularly since it seems that so few others chose to do the same. At any rate, we had a lovely, albeit rainy Thanksgiving. Allo enjoyed it too, almost climbing into the oven to taste the turkey. And, yes, it was as delicious as it looked, even for someone who stopped eating meat, chicken, etc., six months ago. We also had stuffing, tri-color peppers, corn & edamame, pumpkin bread, mozarella cheese, fourme d'ambert, pretzels, chips, whole wheat bread, tomato paste, coconut cake, and marble cake--and diet orange soda to drink.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The New York Art Book Fair


I like books, and I like art, so it’s no surprise that I had a swell time at the first annual New York Art Book Fair on Sunday in Chelsea. Of the many tomes I thumbed through (there were more than 70 publishers exhibiting), I particularly enjoyed one on Robert Rauchenberg’s Combines (it might have been the catalog produced in conjunction with the Met's exhibit last year) and another on Ellen Harvey’s New York Beautification Project, tiny landscapes she paints inside swirls of graffiti. Also on hand: a booth where you could use erotic stencils to make your own designs on a tote bag. I was all set to do it, but, frankly, the yellow short-shorts sported by the people manning the booth scared me away.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Empire State Building



When you live here, it's easy to forget just how magisterially big the city really is. You get mired in your own tiny circle of everyday life, and you rarely see the city from a new perspective. This weekend I got a chance to step out of my circle by taking my brother and his wife (who'd never been to New York before) around. So not only did I get to see the city through her eyes, but I also got to see the city anew--from the top of the Empire State Building.

The top picture shows the view dead south, toward the financial district and the very tip of the island. Brooklyn is to the left; the Statue of Liberty and New Jersey are to the right. The bottom picture shows the view to the east, including the Chrysler Building, a strip of Roosevelt Island, and Queens. Seen from above at 4.30 on a Friday afternoon, New York City really did seem to encompass the world.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

"The Coast of Utopia"


In its 11/6/06 issue, New York magazine collated some data regarding the production of Tom Stoppard’s epic trilogy, “The Coast of Utopia.” So what's it take to put on three plays about Russia? Each night cast and crew consume 27 bottles of water; the total budget is approximately $7.5 million; and there are 82 speaking roles, plus one non-speaking cat.

I saw “Voyage,” the first of the three plays, in previews on Saturday night—a wonderful birthday surprise. It primarily focuses on the friends and family of Michael Bakunin (now known as the “father of anarchism”) in mid-nineteenth-century Russia. As the rest of Europe modernized during the Enlightenment, Russia remained buried beneath the weight of roughly 50 million serfs. Bakunin and co., including a young Ivan Turgenev and Alexander Herzen, debate about weighty philosophical issues like how to modernize the country, how to create a national literature, and how to translate abstract notions into concrete actions. But Stoppard deftly handles the heady philosophy with his trademark sense of humor. He just might be the smartest playwright working today.

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