NYC: May 2004 Archives


This is one of a group of works by Brian Belott [who shows at Canada] lining the gallery's entrance ramp of the White Box show, "Majority Whip," which closed yesterday. Closed, but not to be forgotten, since we can expect to see its children throughout this New York summer, and far beyond.

On Wednesday night, a clutch of Billionaires for Bush managed to crash an enthusiastic gathering of somewhat less-monied and decidedly un-Bush artists and activists in the gallery:


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not a pigeon in sight this past Thursday

Stanford White's elegant Washington Square Arch has been restored, but virtually every square inch of its carved surfaces is now covered in an almost invisible high-tech screening material designed to keep out the New York pigeon. Only the flat and molded surfaces (including the base, a section of which is shown above) and the two pier sculptures of George Washinton manage to avoid the veiling.

I suppose Ancient Athens didn't have much of a pigeon problem. This is just a thought, but if it had, without sophisticated modern plastic netting the Parthenon frieze would have been hidden under guano for over 2000 years and Lord Elgin would never have known his "Marbles" were even there.

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Lower East Side relativity

Half the theatre had emptied out when we returned after intermission last night. I did recall hearing, as the lights went up, one matron in the row in front of us repeating to her partner over and over again, "no content; the play has no content."

She was wrong. In fact I think she may have been covering for her embarassment in being shocked by what was happening on stage. I cannot account for the reasons why so many others, like those two, failed to come back for the last 50 minutes of Christopher Shinn's "Where Do We Live." but the play making its U.S. premier at New York Theatre Workshop this month is definitely a serious container - of the relationships we all have with family, friends, lovers neighbors, strangers and, finally, the entire world.

He's good. He's very good.

Disclaimer: We stayed after the play for an audience discussion with the young playwright, so I may be a little ahead of the game. Here [the remaining] New Yorkers really redeemed themselves. I was blown away both by their theatre sophistication and by their obvious comfort in talking about some of the scenes and issues which had apparently caused our more prudish seatmates to flee the house, some only minutes after the play had begun. While there we were reminded that Shinn has been very fortunate in his teachers, who have included Maria Irena Fornes, Tony Kushner and Michael Cunningham. Whew.

September 11 plays a subtle, almost mute role in Shinn's drama, written in the months after the destruction of the towers which had stood in sight of his apartment on the Lower East Side. Don't concentrate too much on the dates projected on the back wall. The story which unfolds inside two neighboring apartments in a tenement abandoned by Giuliani's Republican idea of New York is that of nine barely-related people struggling with all human connections, even those they would prefer to ignore.

The energetic young cast, some doubling, tripling or even quadrupling roles, was magnificent. Shinn is directing a play for the first time here, and he seems to know what he's doing. The set and the costumes were a perfect match with the lighting, which peformed small miracles reinventing rooms and scenes. The great sound design was an integral part of the characters' story, but it was just one of the many stimulants in which they indulged, just like real.

"Where Do We Live" opened in London at the Royal Court in 2002 and opens here officially this Sunday, May 9. Performances run only through May 30. If you're not bored with youth, New York, sex, drugs or rock and roll, or indeed with relationships, you're more than welcome to do something about changing the audience demographic responsible for the empty seats we saw later last night.

[image is not from the play, but rather from Mark Allen's site, where it is described as "the confines of my super-exciting NYC Lower East Side apartment"]

19th Street, east of 8th Avenue this afternoon: the signs read: "NO PARKING 8am to 6pm"

In 1962, at the peak of urban flight, New York City law was changed to permit police officers to live outside the city for the first time in its history. New York hasn't been the same since. Although there have been many more frightening consequences, here we see one of the most visible.

Each of the vehicles shown above, almost all privately-owned and almost all SUVs, had large police permits lying on their dashboards. The 10th Precinct headquarters is located mid-block. So while they're already getting free parking, apparently the street itself isn't big enough for these commuters' monsters. The narrow sidewalk of this quiet, tree-shaded residential block has to be commandeered for their convenience.

This is a scene reproduced all over the city, wherever there are police (or fire) stations. It's no wonder that police routinely ignore threats to the safety and convenience of millions of New York pedestrians; the officers we pay for are essentially part of an occupying army, and they don't know how to use their feet. I won't even bring up large squad cars regularly double parked outside Krispy Kreme, or routinely blocking busy pedestrian crosswalks.

Incidently, the continued presence of these angle-parked precinct officers' private tanks even at night makes the street signs somewhat disingenuous:

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the same block at 7:30pm last Friday

This page is an archive of entries in the NYC category from May 2004.

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