Happy: August 2003 Archives

Chelsea, August 28, 6pm, SGS Hardware, 157 8th Ave., between 17th and 18th Sts.

Our tiny neighborhood hardware store has always had interesting windows, but this special end-of-summer-2003 set excels. The guys tell me it's a work in progress, so I'll be going back.


click here for more pictures

On Saturday my Wigstock experience began on a sour note, and it had nothing to do with wigs. As Barry and I were about to cross Avenue A at 8th Street I spotted a small, dedicated contingent from ACT UP with their table of literature on the sidewalk. They had been thrown out of Tompkins Square Park by the HOWL! Festival organizers because they had not paid a concession fee.

ACT UP doesn’t pay concession fees, and ACT UP has always been a part of Wigstock. [In the interest of complete disclosure I must say that I have been a member of ACT UP almost since its beginnings, but in recent years I have been more neglectful than supportive.] I understand the costs of the festival have to be met somehow, but I also understand that, at least the last time I checked, Tompkins Square is a public park. Surely something could have been arranged for the inclusion of genuine public service organizations in a celebration of the creative and radical tradition of the East Village.

Now feeling a little like contraband myself after hearing of their experience with the authorities, we entered the park which had once been a very major civic battleground.

Wigstock’s return to the park where it was first conceived (and delivered) 18 years ago by a gaggle of not-so-mad drag queens was of course wonderful - with at least one, no two or even more, reservations. The Lady Bunny emceed of course, operating in the customary, tired bitchy form she shares with too many of her sisters, and significantly she had even managed to sorta witches-kiss and make up with Mistress Formica in consideration of this momentous occasion. But where were the new artists? The question could, and should well, be asked of the entire HOWL! enterprise.

The Dazzle Dancers wound up the afternoon's program with a spectacular salute to the ultimate irrelevance of costume as a quantity – except of course for the glitter, which they generously shared with the first hundred feet of the fans packed around the stage.

I was sorry to see that in spite of the good vibe among those in the bois propre below the latest Wigstock incarnation had attracted far less spectator hair, makeup and costume involvement than those of legend, and yet I have to admit that I didn’t wear my wired golden pigtails this year myself.

The tiny ATM Gallery on Avenue B (yes, it's behind the ATM machine), just north of the park, was showing what was billed as the “First Annual HOWL! Invitational” through late Sunday. Just inside the door on the right in this group show were Chris Tanner’s three colorful works on fabric with built-up patterns which suggested chenille bedspreads gone mad. They were pretty wonderful.

The Festival’s community-driven "Art Wall" around much of the park was, not surprisingly, very political, and some of its statements managed to ignite tempers, arguably a good thing even for a festival. Much of it had something to do with Bush, Israel, police states, etc., and we can report with satisfaction that Michael Stewart has not been forgotten.

The East Village today is not your father’s East Village, and ironically the best evidence of that may have been the strong presence of child-friendly elements in the HOWL! Festival schedule.

Local color to straddle the two generations: At 8pm Saturday night, while we were walking about the neighborhood, we passed a barely-30-something mother and her young 7-something son out “walking” their house pets. The mother was pushing a folding grocery cart which supported a gold fish in a stormy bowl of water on its lower shelf and a hamster merrily racing on its treadmill in a cage on the upper.

As darkness replaced twilight, we slipped into the Sixth Street and Avenue B Garden for a few minutes to walk through the green stuff and to listen to the music of Mr. Raga’s Neighborhood players (a very nice ECM-ish ambience).

As we started to go out I realized the beautiful tree we had been standing under was a perfectly healthy and fructiferous fig, something I am still not accustomed to, having lived most of my life in northern temperate zones. Do the magnificent branches and the perfectly-formed fruits reveal gardening care or betray global warming?

We managed to find a table at Raga on 6th Street for a leisurely dinner, followed by a slow walk home.

The next afternoon we returned to the same scenes to meet our friend Kate, who is visiting from Antwerp for a few weeks. We went back to the ATM Gallery, which was just then cleaning out the bottles from what appeared to have been a very successful opening party the night before. We talked to Bill Brady, the delightful artist behind the space, and we easily became somewhat enchanted with his very adventurous curatorial choices.

Aside from the work of Chris Tanner, the show, which was created especially for the HOWL! Festival, included UFO-imaged work by Ionel Talpazan, the geometric devices of Vince Roark, the sweet/scary world of Min Kim, the graphite Altamont of Mike Paré, Karen Finley's efficient, Titian-esque nudes, and her menstrual blood flower drawings, the delicate collage-drawings of Yuh-Shioh Wong, Jack Davidson's cloud landscapes which were oil paintings passing as cottoncandy pastels, David Leslie's wonderful soap sculpture of a not-quite-successful Evel Knievel outing, and Bill Brady curating himself with an exciting, strangely iconic, somehow-non-objective, neo-op oil in very primary colors.

We lingered at the music lot on Avenue A and 11th Street for a bit, unfortunately missing the magnificent John Moran but very pleased and provoked by Rebecca Moore and her band, Prevention of Blindness. We bought her CD. We already owned all of the recordings of John’s operas spread out on the table next to it, and a good thing, too.

Passing through the willow tree oasis of La Plaza Cultural Garden we hung out for a few songs by a wonderful [unfortunately unidentified to us] performer who was part of the WOW Café Cabaret, before we had to leave to call our friend Anees to settle on a time and place for dinner, always the day’s paramount event for the both of us.

We now four soon found ourselves at Gnocco on 10th Street, in their beautiful back garden sheltered by Trumpet Vines and heating ductwork ready for the winter. Anees had arrived bearing gifts from Palestine, two keffiyahs and a beautiful CD of a young Palestinian oud player, Samir Jubran.

And so, after another hike home to the northwest, to bed.

The 2003 Ford ITU New York City World Cup Duathlon [sic], a "dry-tri," because of the polluting effect of recent perpetual heavy rainfall in Manhattan, was staged completely within Central Park on Sunday, incidently making it easier on the spectator, and especially the spectator's eye. Who's designing the boys' and girls' costumes?

We [heart] Spain! Ivan Rana (Esp), described before the race as a favorite, came in eighth in the men's. Well, he's probably still a "favorite" for lots of us.

Pip Taylor (Aus) was second in the women's.
Hot, but except for the wonderful ribbons, the costume just can't compete with Ivan's.

The spooky Empire State thing rising above old Chelsea tonight

Jessie, a smart Blogger acquaintance of ours, needs help with new swim goggles.

My crappy Speedo swim goggles broke. So i taped them for this super hot goggle photo. And these less than hot goggle animations - 256-color, 16-color, 4-color.

Any brand/model recommendations? I like blue. And things that don't break.

Make sure you click onto one of the 3 animation choices on his post.

He's right.

"J. Lo and Affleck Finally Get Some Privacy," is the headline the NYTimes uses in an illustrated business (media) section article today.

The story of Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck, glamorous movie stars whose love affair blossomed on a Hollywood set, has turned into the summer's most watched romance. The movie they made, however, has had no such luck.
The film is a disaster. The Times piece speculates on the overexposure factor. The couple have been splashed across magazine covers and television screens until even their fans may have had enough, but such a take would be too generous to all involved, and it would leave the film itself off the hook.
The problems with "Gigli" (pronounced JEE-lee, although not by many) did not start with the reviews, but the reviews were scathing. The Washington Post called the movie "enervated, torpid, slack, dreary and, oh yes, nasty, brutish and long."

The Los Angeles Times told readers, "Forget the hype — this movie would stink even without its big-ticket stars."

The New York Times said the movie, though it draws on various other movies, "has a special badness all its own."

The Wall Street Journal called it "the worst movie — all right, the worst allegedly major movie — of our admittedly young century."

Now if we could only believe Ms. Lopez's and Mr. Affleck's new privacy signaled a trend.

photo by Basil Bernstat

The pix keep coming in. This wonderful image of several competitors [Amy in the center] is from the C.H.U.N.K. 666 site itself.

The picture gives some idea of just how hot the Chunkathalon afternoon really was.


Go here for the Free Williamsburg story on the Chunkathalon.

Brooklyn still offers a few places where you can have good, clean fun away from the prying eyes of those who would seek to prevent it (hence, stickball). One of those places is a fenced-in patch of condemned state property abutting the East River in Williamsburg. If you walk down the last desolate trash-strewn block of North 7th St. to where it ends at the disused MTA power station, you'll find-so long as no cops are camped out and you're not put off by the No Trespassing signs or the occasional burned-out car- a ratty park that offers one of the most blessedly intimate river views of Manhattan. On any given day there, Williamsburg's skateboarders and bikers can be found doing tricks on a concrete expanse about the size of football field that rises about five feet above the weeds and crabgrass (a refrigerator offers a leg up). It was here, on the last Saturday of July, that Chunkathon 2003 went down.

photo from BikeSummer 2003

Zach shows his stuff at the Williamsburg Chunkathalon. Now that's commitment.

I have absolutely no idea how we missed this part of the program last Saturday.

This page is an archive of entries in the Happy category from August 2003.

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