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while i'm dressing in the morning the television sicks up an episode of the maury povich talk show - www.mauryshow.com - (like jerry springer but without the cat fights and with the unconvincing pretense of actually caring). the episode was titled 'my husband makes me have sex for money'. the slack-jawed human punchbags were paraded in front of us, each with their own tale of woe, though all sharing a common theme: "he hits me with a belt", "he made me have his name tattooed on my backside", "he made me shave his initials onto my genitals", "he ties me to the wardrobe with my hair" o and the the kicker, repeated by all of them: "but i still love him with all my heart". um, ok then... enjoy.
the transit strike moves closer...
'top of the rock' ( www.topoftherocknyc.com ) is a recently reopened building with astonishing views of the city from its observation deck. while not at high as the empire state building, it is closer to central park and of course has a view of the empire state building itself. with no bars or railings to obscure the view but huge panels of "fully transparent safety glass" instead, it has to be the best view of new york that currently exists. o and the elevator to the observation deck has a glass ceiling...
we went to see spamalot, which was ok but not outstanding. some of the original holy grail material is kind of thrown away by the cast, something about their delivery a bit hit and miss, which is a real shame. i mean, if they did a musical of one of the marx bros. films then the people playing the parts would have to, for a great part of the show, ape the voices and delivery of groucho and gummo etc. or the show would fail on every level. i would argue that to some extent the same could be said of monty python; while all python members played multiple characters (unlike the marx brothers who, despite their character's name pretty much always played the same role) their delivery is no less linked to the success of the material. still, the show had some very funny moments, not least from the new character of the lady of the lake, and a great sight gag during the show stopping song 'you won't succeed on broadway' ("you can't succeed on broadway if you don't have any jews!").
now i don't pretend to be in touch with what's happening in the world of fashion but just a few years ago, wasn't it considered as horrible and wholly unacceptable to wear fur? now i'm not staking a claim to any moral high ground here but it was my perception that fur most people (see what i did there? fur/for?) animal fur was a no no. it would seem that this view has been reversed... in new york anyway. there were people (woman and men) wearing what looked very much like real fur everywhere. it's obviously quite the thing. how bizarre that these hot topics of moral right and wrong can change so quickly.
past madison square park:
a trip to the brooklyn museum (a strange mixture of the v&a and the tate - in an impressive building) brought us face to face with this bizarre object as we came through the entrance. entitled 'fear and denial' by pepon osorio, it took us both a little by surprise; both funny and vaguely sinister (those cats are big. and yes, the table is buckling under them). advised by a guide to start upstairs, we came across an exhibition entitled 'manufactured landscapes' by edward burtynsky, who takes huge beautiful photos of mostly deserted industrial sites: (see more of his work here: www.cowlesgallery.com/burtynsky/rockofages.html ) very much recommended if you're in the area, as the internet really can't do the scale of the originals justice. next we came to a rodin exhibit. known i suppose best for his 'the kiss', or the no doubt forsythe inspired, 'the thinker', the works exhibited here were of a considerably darker nature. not many smiles on these bronzes, in fact misery seemed to be the overriding theme (not surprising i s'pose as he did a lot of work inspired by dante). also, many of them were posed with one hand raised thus: ... as if just about to bitch-slap a midget; well that's what it brought to my mind anyway.
the trip's first and last snapple lid of the holiday: "real fact #141 -the square dance is the official dance of the state of washington." so now you know. dazzle your friends, excel at pub quizes. guaranteed to break the ice at parties.
saw a dead squirrel in union square; dead in a kind of cartoon way, on his back, feet in the air.
when we got back to the hotel, they'd painted over our room door to disguise where it'd been forced. damnit, i meant to take a photo of that! in fact they did the whole corridor (had they all been forced?) leaving a handwritten note on our door which read 'wet panit'.
at a pet shop called 'barking zoo' i picked up a dog toy made in the shape of the devil. 'squeeze me' read a small sticker, so i did, at which point the toy cried out what i think was meant to be "the devil made me do it!" but which in fact sounded very much like "the devil made me jewish!"
to the theatre again to watch the americans attempt two one act pinter plays: 'the room' (which i've always liked) and 'the celebration', at the atlantic theatre company. pinter's a bit of a tricky pickle to get right i think and both plays managed to succeed and fail: 'the room' -after a nice build up, rushing the ending a little (that last line) and 'the celebration' -the humour was handled nicely (particularly by the bloke from the orange television adverts: "hurt me hunter, make me bleeed") but somehow failing to convince me of their vulgar englishness. as is to be expected, there were also a few ropey accents. for some reason the americans seem to want to transform all 'i' sounds into 'oi' sounds when attempting a cockney accent. i blame dick van dyke. the 'playbill' program for the show had a one page ad for a sleeping pill that kept hostess elisabeth amused for hours (the ad that is, not the pill): it had one page for the ad itself, then two full pages of warnings and side effects; as the saying goes: "only in america..."
our first attempt to see king kong at the cinema (a big monkey in new york. what better place to see it?) saw us crammed into a packed 'free seating' auditorium, with more people inside it than were actual seats, totally un-policed (people were sitting on the stairs for fuck's sake) and forced to sit in the third row, which was luuuuudicrously close to the massive screen, so much so that you not only had to crane your neck back to look up at it, but also turn your head if a character crossed from once side of the screen to the other. having watched ten or so minutes of the film, and realising that the whole thing clocked in at a mighty 3 hours 7 minutes, we bit the bullet, said keep our $25-odd dollars (and my scarf which i accidentally left behind) and got the hell out of there before we suffered irreparable spinal damage. why seats even exist that close to the screen is fucking beyond me. n o o n e could enjoy a film that close up. n o o n e. stupid stupid stupid.
a pleasant morning was spent walking across the impressive brooklyn bridge, and then on the other side, drinking perhaps the richest hot chocolate known to man from jacques torres (www.mrchocolate.com). it was more like drinking actual melted chocolate. or chocolate gravy. or chocolate custard. mmmgood.
hostess elisabeth has insisted that i mention that when it was very cold and she blew her nose, "blood came out".
at an ice hockey game at madison square garden, i think we were the only two people in the entire stadium that didn't stand up for the 'star spangled banner' -played by some jazz trumpeter out on the ice... flanked by real soldiers... with real rifles. the game was all very fast, amusing and exciting, with a gloves-off fist fight within the first 36 seconds (which for some reason the referees allowed to go on and on) much to the delight of the crowd. it strikes me that ice hockey is kind of like normal sport on fast forward. leaving to get refreshments during one of the intervals (if that's what they're called, what do i know?) i return with two chili dogs and a 'medium' coke you could float the fucking titanic in, only to see a team of little kids and a fucking s.u.v. on the ice! (something about sponsorship). most odd. if you're interested, local team the new york rangers were comprehensively outplayed by the visitors colorado avalanches, the final score: 2 - 1.
hostess elisabeth-ism of the holiday -
tracking the film down to a smaller, less dangerously over crowded, less fire hazard, less stupid stupid stupid cinema, we finally see king kong; a film which somehow manages to be exciting, ridiculous, scary, stupid, corny, overlong and rushed all at the same time. entertaining for most of its duration though. most of the effects look great though for some reason, and quite inexcusably in this day and age, a few still look pretty rough. "aaah. i'm a big monkey... well, ape."
a man behind the counter of a handbag and purse shop asked if i was a rock star. why, i have no idea. i thought that since i had all my hair cut off (5 or 6 years ago) that all that malarkey was over with. maybe it's the poofy earrings.
the (admittedly tacky tourist trap) restaurant 'mars 2112' -where the waiting staff dress as martians and introduce themselves as "your space captain for the evening"- has taken to charging $2 just to enter. cheeky fuckers. so we told them they were taking the piss and left. idiots. wouldn't it be easier, less obvious and more financially beneficial to just, say, add 50 cents on each item on the menu?
visiting new york public library we came across an exhibition entitled 'the splendor of the word' a display of "medieval and renaissance illuminated manuscripts". there were some cracking examples, the detail and skill of which was frankly mind boggling... but i couldn't help but see the whole thing as a gargantuan waste of time, i mean these people spent their entire lives doing this, well, with the odd bit of praying now and again... and then again a bit later on. art is one thing but in the name of such nonsense? i'd like to think it was because they were just poor ignorant fools (as indeed we're all likely to be seen by those hundreds of years in the future) but the fact is, the beliefs that inspired them still exist today. i'd rather the exhibition had been called 'pretty pictures painted back when we were still foolish savages'.
we visited (or should i say i was made to visit?) the build-a-bear workshop, an event to be known hereafter as 'the afternoon hostess elisabeth l o s t h e r m i n d'. she decided to purchase a monkey and dress it in a 'i heart ny' t-shirt. yes, i know. all inquires as to why are to be addressed to the above phrase: 'the afternoon hostess elisabeth l o s t h e r m i n d. the girl serving asked hostess elisabeth how floppy she wanted her monkey (euphemism anyone?) and then told her to choose a heart to go inside the monkey from the basket, warm it between her hands, close her eyes, make a wish and then turn around. yes, yes, i know it's strange but you see she'd l o s t h e r m i n d. the build-a-bear workshop also sells whole wardrobes of clothing for the stuffed animals, t-shirts, suits, leather jackets, a spiderman costume for teddybears... and silky red panties (or 'undibear' as they call it) -witness the insane pervity at www.buildabear.com
at ellen's stardust diner, the 50s retro style eatery with singing waiters and waitresses, they give away a free 'bazooka joe' bubble gum hidden in every meal. can you say 'heimlich maneuver'?
the transit strike hits! leaving near empty streets and lots of very cold people marching in from brooklyn.
we keep seeing the same irritating tv commercial: "chia pets! the pottery that grows!" (www.chia.com). jesus kerrrist what a load of fucking rubbish. worst present to be given by anyone to anyone at any time. ugly terra cotta figures of animals that you grow watercress out of. is it me? and since when did scooby-doo have a bloody afro anyway?
apparently the borough of brooklyn, if it were an independent city, would be the 4th largest in the u.s.. there, don't say i never teach you nuthin'.
the find of the holiday without a doubt is houston's, a restaurant on 5th ave. moodily lit, nicely adorned, with great service and an unbelievable 'chicago style' spinach cheese dip. best thing on the menu for me though has to be the thinly sliced beef, still pink, piled inside sliced french bread and served with a coffee cup of transcendentally rich gravy. mmm-mmm-mmmmm...
the night before we fly back we see reports on tv of a plane crash in miami. but of course. why am i surprised?
and then all of a sudden we're on the plane and then back home...
and so christmas came along with all the inevitability of death, with its own inevitable irksome happenings... but to go into that in any depth would see me typing until my fingers bled bile... maybe when i know you better.
a thought: if all you ever learn serves only to underline everything you already believe, does this make you wise... or blinkered... or both... or neither? -discuss
i know, i know, there's been too many pictures, it's been too long and in the final analysis had nothing really to say blah blah blah.
recommended: (audio) '"the devil made me jewish!" / (comestible) houston's thinly sliced beef, still pink, piled inside sliced french bread and served with a coffee cup of transcendentally rich gravy/ (visual) 'manufactured landscapes' by edward burtynsky / (sensorial) 'top of the rock'
reviled: (audio) an 'oi' where an 'i' should be / (comestible) a toasted panini from 'bredstix' on 23rd st. / (visual) king kong in stupidlycloseup-o-vision / (sensorial) king kong in idioticallyuncomfortable-a-rama
and finally, for all you new year revelers who celebrated nothing more than the passing of one day into another, a brief thought:
"forget about what you are escaping from... reserve your anxiety for what you are escaping to."
from 'the amazing adventures of kavalier & clay' by michael chabon