August 2003 Archives

automated response file etc.

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Off to the desert. Details once I'm back. Really.

super natures

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Long long entry just 86ed by a mistaken keystroke--I hate when that happens. But the gist was that today was so musical a day that my head hurts now: did a little remix of Electric 6's "Gay Bar" (with the Modern Lovers' "I'm Straight") on a dare, played for the first time with the ad hoc Douglas/Lisa/Leela/Liz/Jess band (which appears to be called the Oblique Strategies), went to see Belle & Sebastian at Prospect Park. And more actual details to come.

ice wriggle

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The blackout treated us remarkably okay. I was at home taking a nap when the lights went out; when I woke up, I thought at first that the fridge light had died. Then I heard a commotion in the hallway, and went out to ask what was going on. I ended up hanging out by the 14th-floor stairwell with our neighbors Sarah and Rita, passing out cups of water and juice to exhausted people climbing the stairs, and giving ice cream sandwiches to kids while they lasted. (In the meantime, Lisa was stuck out in Far Rockaway, and took a series of buses, plus a ride from a friendly passerby, to get home, which took her a few hours.) We all retreated to Sarah and Rita's apartment and sat around and chatted and ate grape tomatoes. It felt very neighborly.

I spent most of yesterday hoping that my ISP would get back online already, making a vegetarian feijoada (black bean stew with lots of spices and produce and veggie sausage) from the Crescent Dragonwagon book, and going to see the Polyphonic Spree at Warsaw. Which was an experience, but one I'm getting paid to write about elsewhere.

thin strip of rubber

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Went with L. tonight to see the Sunnyside Boys play at, as Craig put it, "Country Blue Grass & Blues." Which is technically the name of the place, I suppose. It's Craig-ex-GodCo's old-time band with Roger Manning and whoever they can convince to get on stage with them--tonight, the accordion player showed up, the bass/banjo player didn't, Roger turned up five minutes into the set (bearing a box of dumpstered pastries from Au Bon Pain), and the guest drummer/singer was Sharon-ex-GodCo, on stage for the first time in something close to four years, I think. They were... um... underrehearsed, which resulted in at least one impromptu Hank Williams/Johnny Cash/Little Richard/Holy Modal Rounders medley.

Before the show, we went to Kiev for dinner. Kiev apparently has new owners, who have decided that it should be significantly more chi-chi. To this end, they've stripped the menu way down (from a giant laminated two-sided page to a standard-looking fold-out thing that eliminates most of the weird New Yorky stuff that used to be on the menu--no more beets with horseradish, no more matzo brei scrambled or omelet style, no more compote. Also, the challah tasted suspiciously solid & storebought (as opposed to the immense fluffy slabs one used to get), one no longer pays at the counter, and everything is plated fancily--our order of pierogi (still mercifully on the menu, as is kasha varnishkes) was sprinkled with fragments of carrot and, I dunno, chives or something. What's wrong with a chipped pastel plate with a little puddle of cooking grease & water, I ask you? This is how I knew in my brain I should've left NYC already--if Dojo is a bistro when I get back I suppose I'll have to deal with it, but I don't want to be in the city when it happens. (I registered my feelings of shock & loss over the beets-with-horseradish on the comment form included with the bill. Comment form, I say.)

And, earlier in the day, the end of another era: I saw a new release by the Fall and decided not to buy it. This would be the "Bootleg Box Set," a $50, five-CD box of five live sets from their November 2001 tour. I love the Fall unreasonably and am willing to get gouged by them more than by almost any other band, but this just seemed like some kind of insult.

trust the curve

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I woke up early last night after a bit of dream/existential shock unlike anything I'd experienced before. I compared it afterwards to an earthquake's bump and aftershocks, or to when a DVD gets stuck and holds a picture and a sound for a moment. It was as if all of reality were "paused" on a single image and sound, and "skipping"--this happened three times in the course of six or eight seconds, and one time everything was covered in red symbols, sort of plus-sign-like but not quite. I snapped awake, completely unnerved.

The truck's been loaded with Camp Juju Apple's gear for Burning Man--most of it, anyway. We've got an extra shade structure that I was thinking of using for a self-portrait booth, but my attempts to get a cheap and shippable drafting table & suggestion box totally failed to pan out. So now we've got a space with which I'd like to do something clever; suggestions are more than welcome. (One possibility would be a one-man finger-puppet-theater adaptation of The Apple, but organizing it in the next couple of weeks seems like it would be a rather intense effort, and then there's the matter of getting people in the desert to sit still for anything at all.)

Made a Japanese tofu omelet for breakfast this morning, which went over very well--two eggs, a little package of firm silken tofu mashed to a pulp and drained, a little soy sauce, a little salt, a little flour, a little sugar, a little mirin, a handful of peas, a tablespoon of oil in a small pan over reasonably high heat, mixture poured in and allowed to cook for 10 minutes or so until it's pretty firm, then slid onto a plate, cut into squares, and served over rice with a soy/sesame oil/sugar/mirin sauce.

Just added: Friendster friend #100, the fabulous Alyssa Isenstein!

five steps back

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Slightly behind the trend as always, I was part of my first instant mob yesterday. People with my birth month were sent to meet our contact at Hamburger Harry's in midtown (where I ran into Jen Cooper, a friend from college I hadn't seen in years). We were handed a little slip of paper telling us to be hanging out on the 2nd floor of the Times Square Toys 'R' Us by 7:15. At 7:18, we all clustered around the gigantic mechanical dinosaur in the Jurassic Park exhibit, staring at it in rapt terror (and by "all," I mean at least 300 or 400 people--this mob thing is getting huge); at 7:20, we fell to our knees, waving our hands in subjection to the dinosaur-deity; when it roared, we all screamed and covered our faces in terror. At 7:22 or so, the Toys 'R' Us staff, getting seriously freaked out, turned the dinosaur off, and we dispersed as quickly as we could.

I've seen some complaints about flash-mobs: they're dumb, they have no point, they're not being used for anything. But these pranks are clearly a dry run. It's now possible to mobilize a whole lot of people very quickly, with a little advance notice--it can't be long before the actual political applications of this sort of thing show up.

Otherwise: just preparing for Burning Man--we don't leave for another couple of weeks, but the truck to the desert loads tomorrow afternoon, and we're trying to get as much of our stuff as possible onto it so we don't have to worry about cramming it into our van later.

capping like a wanderer

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To celebrate our anniversary, Lisa & I went up to Dia:Beacon today--the museum devoted to enormous contemporary art, an hour and a half or so north of the city by MetroNorth. It always sort of frustrates me that so many contemporary and near-contemporary artists make a career out of a single idea--Robert Ryman, okay, I get it, ditto to some extent Richard Serra, ditto as much as I like his stuff Dan Flavin.

I do like it, though, when artists execute pieces that are amassed over a long period of time, no matter how similar they are. Lisa's fonder of On Kawara than I am--he's the guy who does paintings of the date on which he executes them, and puts them in boxes with a clipping from that day's newspaper wherever he is at the time--but I'm fond of the assemblage of days (and wish the boxes had been on display at D:B too). The artist I'd never heard of before who really impressed me today, though, was Hanne Darboven: hundreds and hundreds of identically sized collages and assemblages, often all in identical formats for a few dozen or a hundred in a row before abruptly switching to another.

One other thing that I really liked: the room of Warhol's Shadows series. I was impressed that they all obeyed strict rules for the way paint presented the images, except when they didn't, and even more impressed that Warhol indicated that they were to be hung in an order according to his assistants' whim.

Dinner tonight: a simple and very tasty eggplant-and-onion dish from Madhur Jaffrey's World-of-the-East veggie cookbook (not World Vegetarian), spiced with fennel seed, fenugreek seed, ground cumin, ground coriander, cayenne and amchoor. The anniversary is actually tomorrow, but D:B isn't open Tuesdays. Very much looking forward to marriage year three and beyond.