Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Tribeca Film Festival, "William Vincent"

Well, I saw the film and sadly... it was not very good. That's all I am going to say because I love James Franco. The Chelsea Clearview Cinema had an interesting display with a Sarah Jessica Parker mannequin. I suppose it was a promo for the upcoming "Sex in the City 2."

Monday, April 26, 2010

Helen Weaver, writer

Shortly after I read the heartfelt and bittersweet memoir, "The Awakener," I contacted Helen Weaver. I was enthralled with her memories of her love affair with Jack Kerouac. We began to communicate in E-mails... and today, I am happy to call Helen my friend.
Helen met Jack Kerouac in November 1956, when at 7:00 on a Sunday morning he arrived with Allen Ginsberg at her apartment in 307 West 11th Street. This is a photo of that building that I took after I read the book. Helen was delighted with the photo, and she told me her window can be seen on the left, right behind the blue balloon.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Empire Diner, closing

The Empire Diner in Chelsea is closing on May 15th. In a note posted on its website the owners say, "After more than thirty years of serving Chelsea residents, actors, police commissioners, athletes, gangsters, such luminaries as Madonna, Barbra Streisand, Steven Spielberg, and anyone carrying a New York City Guide Book, the Empire Diner has lost its lease and is closing its doors May 15th, 2010. Renate Gonzalez and Mitchell Woo are facing the bittersweet task of closing this iconic New York institution on 22nd and 10th while actively looking for sites to open a new Empire Diner."

The neighborhood has a blend of old and new architecture. And the diner added a touch of nostalgia.

"T" is Dead!

David Chase speaks, so I bump this entry up... which I wrote the day after the series's finale. This is why he cannot figure out how to do it:

"T" is Dead!
Although David Chase has written: "The Sopranos: The Complete Book," and in it he discusses the future of the family, I am going to blog my thoughts on the series finale as they were before part of the book's contents were revealed.
I rewatched "Made in America" on HBO On Demand... which was the controversial and confusing last episode to the phenomenal series "The Sopranos." Many fans were disappointed and even angry that the series did not come to a more satisfying conclusion with more clear closure. It was so layered with different innuendos and possibilities that some diehards referred to the last episode of "The Sopranos" as the Zapruder film of TV finales. But, now I am even more convinced than ever that my initial impressions and interpretations are valid.
The textured theme for the entire run of this series has been the meaning of life and the afterlife. "You probably don't even hear it when it happens, right," Bobby asks Tony in "Soprano Home Movies" when they are out in his little boat on the lake. That one line was a nuanced foreshadowing in terms of the final scene of "Made in America" which opens with the soundtrack of a funeral dirge and then moves along to the family dinner at Holsten's. A suspicious guy in a Members Only jacket enters the restaurant and he nervously looks around. We are thinking he could be dangerous. When he gets up to go to the bathroom, the tension that has been building is unbearable. And all of this is happening while Meadow unsuccessfully attempts several times to park her car. Just as she runs across the street, Tony hears the bells as the restaurant door opens and he looks up and seems startled. Then, the infamous quick and unexpected cut to a dark and silent screen that lasts for about 20 seconds before the credits roll. "What the fuck?" we all initially thought. And all across America customers were calling their cable companies.
After I calmed down, I realized Tony Soprano got whacked by the guy in the Members Only jacket! In his death there was no lighted "Inn at the Oaks" filled with deceased family members, no big answer to "where am I going," and no insight into his desert revelation, "I get it." There was no validation to Paulie's spiritual hallucinations and no parallel experience to Christopher's vision of hell when he was in a coma. Carmela was wrong... Tony did not go to hell. And even Bill Burroughs got it wrong. The blank and silent screen at the very end implies Mama Livia was right all along! "It's all a big nothing," she told AJ. How funny is that? In my book, that's surreal, mind-boggling, and ultimately amazing. The series ended in great irony and dark comedy.
My jaw drops open at that final 20 second blank screen each time I see it. David Chase has to be disappointed that people reacted so negatively at first to his masterpiece. They did not "get it," so maybe it was a bit too esoteric. But it remains a twist so bizarre, so richly funny, so blended with the theme of the entire series, that "I just can't shake it." In the end, Mama was right and "it's all a big nothing!" "T" RIP.

Last June, I sat shiva for Tony Soprano.

 In June 2007, I sat shiva for Tony Soprano. And in August 2009, I took this photo of Michael Imperioli as he was walking on a street in Chelsea.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Marina Abramović, The Artist Is Present

Today, I went to the Museum of Modern Art to see "Marina Abramović : The Artist Is Present."

"This performance retrospective traces the prolific career of Marina Abramović (Yugoslav, b. 1946) with approximately fifty works spanning over four decades of her early interventions and sound pieces, video works, installations, photographs, solo performances, and collaborative performances made with Ulay (Uwe Laysiepen)."

The Washington Post has some excellent photos to view for those who are unable to visit these breathtaking projects on display. It is an amazing and astounding exhibit that includes performance art. "I am tired of waiting in waiting rooms... fast shopping in shopping malls. I want to go away. I want to get old, really old so that nothing matters anymore. I want to not want anymore."

"The Artist is Present" is on YouTube and in Financial Times. And Amir Baradaran succeeds in getting the artist to laugh.

Linda Richman, writer/lecturer

Here is Linda's Proust Questionnaire:

Your most marked characteristic?
my irreverent sense of humor
The quality you most like in a man?
humor, humor, humor
The quality you most like in a woman?
her ability to nurture
What do you most value in your friends?
Loyalty with a capital 'L'
What is your principle defect?
I don't suffer fools gladly
What is your favorite occupation?
authors and writers
What is your dream of happiness?
knowing who you are and accepting the good, the bad, and the ugly
What would you like to be?
an accomplished pianist
In what country would you like to live?
What is your favorite color?
white, even though I know it is a hue
What is your favorite bird?
the cardinal
Who are your favorite poets?
Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning
Who are your favorite composers?
Marvin Hamlisch, Marilyn and Alan Bergman; I'm a Broadway baby!
Who are your favorite painters?
Matisse and Monet
Who are your heroes in real life?
What is it you most dislike?
What historical figures do you most despise?
What natural gift would you most like to possess?
ballet dancing
How would you like to die?
in my sleep next to Antonio Banderas
What is your present state of mind?
I'm wistful
What is your motto?
I'd rather be kind than right

And this is how Linda describes me:
"Marjorie is complicated, brilliant, creative, clever, and impossible at times!"

Linda Richman is the author of the best-selling book "I'd Rather Laugh," and the inspiration for the "Coffee Talk Lady" on Saturday Night Live... and she is my friend.

The photo of the cover of Linda Richman's book is used in this entry with her permission.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Going for the Jugular

I have decided to weigh in regarding an incident that happened last week involving a literary agent, a writer whose query she rejected, blog "followers," and Twitter. I won't be as eloquently verbose as the few authors who were brave enough to express outrage in entries at their blogs. I will just write in my own style and try to present my perspective without extreme drama.

It is just plain not right for a literary agent to use the power of her position to instigate her blog "followers" to go to Twitter and demean (in a childish contest) a man whose query she rejected. He replied to the rejection in all the wrong and angry ways, but he was not a bully. He sent an insulting E-mail in which he made no threats. I am sure he was not the first rejected writer who was transparently hurt and hit back. But, if the agent felt attacked she should have handled it differently.

Well, the agent published at her blog the rejected writer's communications and did not omit his name. Then, she went to Twitter and in a Tweet described a "haiku contest" titled in honor of the man whose query she rejected. Good grief! And... the "followers" gleefully jumped on the bandwagon and complied. In Tweets, he was subjected to organized horrifying sarcastic ridicule and nasty humiliation. It was not pretty.

Some of the participants have offered up excuses for the activity and say, "He asked for it." "He deserved it." "He had it coming." Wow! Way to go to teach that guy a good lesson! Eleanor Parker, as Marie Allen in "Caged," said it well: "For that forty bucks I heisted I sure got myself an education." For his faux pas, he sure got himself one hell of an internet beat down!

He deserved to be the target du jour in a roast for a titillated Twitter audience that was an internet mob? (It looked like the call to action inspired perhaps 100 Tweets) He deserved to have his work, his website, and his photo publically insulted? He deserved to be vilified in Twitter harassment that was relentless? Get real. He asked for nothing. He communicated privately with an agent and if he made a mistake and crossed a line by replying improperly to a rejection, the correct and professional thing would have been to delete the communications and go on with the work day. The agent should have taken a page from the book of Max Reger when he responded to a savage reviewer: "I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before me. In a moment it will be behind me." In my opinion, the rejected author deserved no further response. However, I think the agent felt insulted, so she used the power of her position to "win." How dare he! She would show him what happens to such a disrespectful querier! The agent should be ashamed of herself. It reminded me of a playground bully who cannot fight her own battles, so after school she brings a posse in full force to beat up her adversary.

They all entertained themselves and had huge great fun and laughs, but in my opinion they were tuchas lekkers on a massive scale. It was all sadly clear to me. They thought they would perhaps further their own chances of getting published by supporting the agent. They tried to impress her with some charientisms in their silly and puerile haikus. I think they looked like a bunch of fools. They all claimed to be enjoying the great hilarity, but there was not one creative and talented stand-up comic among them. I would love to see them at a comedy club on an open mic night. I speculate they would all get on stage and develop lockjaw. Can we all say "Gong Show?" They demonstrated what "computer courage" is all about. I do not think the mother of the bride of Chucky, or Scut Farkas, or Biff Tannen could be so cruel. It was like a Twitter frenzy that must have reached a feverish pitch. These people are Twitter friends? I would rather join Lucy's "Friends of the Friendless." I wonder if any of them had to see a doctor for carpal tunnel syndrome. I read those Tweets and got so mad I almost detached a retina. Which proves the whole mess was darn unhealthy and way too toxic.

People love to fight on the internet. All the participants argue like Don Quxiotes. Didn't the terms "Godwin's Law" and "Internet Fuckwad Theory" develop because of this new sport? I do it, too. I put on my "Shield of Gardol" and I fight internet bullies with my own brand of self-effacing tongue-in-cheek wit and humor... all the time never knowing who my attackers are because they post under anonymous user names at forums. The snaps should have little impact because there is no real fodder. I could be fighting with my aunt Sadie who is typing from the community room at her assisted living center. Who knows? But, it crosses a line for so many people to gleefully target a named and seemingly identifiable person on Twitter. Do they know how the rejected writer reacted to all the abusive insults? Do they care?

I speculate that these very same people who took to Twitter like obedient followers are great champions of human rights. They are two-faced hypocrites. I hate it. And one last thing. I followed suit and in this entry I redacted the names of the literary agent and the rejected query writer. However... if the literary agent finds nothing wrong with what she did, why can't her name be published in blogs? Why all the protection? It was all over Twitter with names attached to the Tweets.

If this was a "hot topic" on "The View," whose side do you think Barbara Walters would be on? I think most people would be appalled. I think the agent should apologize. It's the right thing to do. And hopefully, a resolution would bring closure and would be an excellent teaching moment regarding "bullying." Because it is out of hand.

I needed to vent. I closed comments because I have read all the opinions and I am not interested in feedback. You want to go after ME? Bring.it.on. I am retired. The only thing I fear these days is a diagnosis.

(I would love to send all the participants a gift: mittens)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Renée Taylor, on Las Olas Boulevard

And the woman in the leopard jacket is... me.

Monday, April 12, 2010

"Night Watch," photographs by Richard Bachmann

Today, I went to The National Arts Club to see "Night Watch," the photographs by Richard Bachmann.

"Night Watch" features 17 large format black and white prints, each capturing a dazzling new perspective of the city. They were taken by Richard Bachmann between 1996 and 2007 from rooftops and out-of-the-way vantage points. The photographs are an historical documentation of an ever-changing city in the graphic patterns of its buildings and streets.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Alice Austen House, Staten Island

Today was a beautiful Sunday in New York, so I went to the Alice Austen House, on Staten Island. Clear Comfort is the childhood home of Alice Austen, one of America’s earliest and most accomplished female photographers. It was built in 1690 as a seaside cottage on the shores of New York harbor by her grandfather. During her lifetime, Alice took over 8,000 photographs that have been recognized as one of the major works capturing turn-of-the century life in America.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Brig Van Osten and Orlando Pita, hair artists

I was walking home from Whole Foods and when I passed Eros Cafe, I saw two very familiar faces! It was Brig Van Osten, the Season 3 winner of "Shear Genius," and Orlando Pita, the Season's mentor.

I didn't have my camera... so although Brig offered to take some photos and E-mail them to me, I wanted to run the two short blocks to my home and get my own camera for the photo-op so I could post the photos on the same day. I should have let Brig use her camera. My camera is so done. Done, with a capital D! The photos did not develop color correctly (they read all weirdly blue) and they are sort of blurry. But, I was happy to have had the opportunity!

I did manage to sit down with them for a few minutes and talk to them about retro "hair height." They were exceedingly pleasant and answered all my questions with great patience and they gave me excellent advice. It was a true pleasure to meet such sincere and talented artists.

P.S. That camera is history, I bought a new one...

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Great White Way

New York, New York!!

I was all over the Broadway area today. I walked to the theater box offices and I bought several tickets for well-reviewed plays. And I took my own photo in the reflection of an office building facade.

In a double-take, I even caught "The Naked Cowboy!"

Bye-bye, Broadway! See you soon... when I arrive to see "Lend Me a Tenor!"

Turn up the volume, baby! Empire State of Mind!!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Street Fair in Chelsea

I was walking to Whole Foods and bumped into a West 23rd Street street fair. This was an excellent photo op on a beautiful spring day. You can see the Chelsea Hotel, and to the right is the Congregation Emunath Israel and to the left is the Gotham Comedy Club. You can click on the photos to enlarge them. Welcome to my neighborhood!