May 24, 2009

Where was I?

nyc-2009.airtran

Long weekend in NYC with Liz and Matt last week (followed by a long Memorial Day weekend, nice)! Lisa & I headed out Wednesday after work and arrived around 9 or 10. Ride to The Bryant Park Hotel and discover that all the cabs now have video/GPS/weather screens in the back. Meh. Reminds me of years ago when they had famous actors telling you to buckle up in the voice of whatever character they were currently playing (or had played) on Broadway. I just need a cab. The hotel was pretty swank--affordable only through some special deal Lisa found--but there was no place in the room to store your clothes. We unpacked what little we could then hit their basement bar: The Cellar Door. Drinks taste better when served by chicks in corsets. On to food at a hip little wine bar called Terroir.

Om nom nom from Terroir in #NYC on Twitpic

Thursday, Lisa and Liz had their spa time so I got to wander the streets and people watch whilst listening to Yoko Kanno. Perfect morning. I hit the Times Square Sketchers store and got two new pairs to replace the ones I bought... back in October 2006! Way overdue. Then I rambled along to Midtown Comics and basked in the geeky fun. Acquired: the most recent Ex Machina GN + The Umbrella Academy. The latter was an impulse buy and pretty good. After, I met Lisa at Butterfield 8 for drinks.

In line for Jon Stewart #NYC on Twitpic

Afternoon was The Dailiy Show! Best moment was Samantha Bee's bit on the Monsanto lobbyist who--and I am not making this up--is vilifying Michelle Obama's push for private gardens. Classic. Afterwards we parted ways to rest and clean up for dinner at 81 (great food but you must go and eat the bread sticks at the bar!!) and late nite drinks at The Greeley.

Big events Friday were Guggenheim with Matt in the morning and Billy Elliot with all four of us that night. We're in the middle of a Frank Lloyd Wright anniversary (he died 50 years ago) so they had a big exhibit of his work. I was more interested in the Kandinsky exhibit, but it was only two small rooms in preparation for a fall show. Great pieces by Kokoshka, Franz Marc, and Kirchner IIRC. Another show had some Picasso and others who I just can't remember right now. It made me want to start going to The High once a month just to wander around. The weather and walk back was perfect. Weather was up and down all weekend but mostly up.

nyc-2009.billy-elliot.cover nyc-2009.billy-elliot.actors

Billy Elliot was that night. First chance I got to see Greg perform live (Lisa was up with her mom in 2005 when he was in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, but I was slack for some reason). BE is up for 13 (?) Tonys, tying The Producers for most nominations, but no talk yet of a Midtown Tony part on June 7th (!). It was a great show, but I got reprimanded for taking a photo of the stage during intermission. Same thing happened at the Guggenheim, but I seem to be able to get away without being labeled a terrorist. Neat.

Saturday, Matt and Lisa and I went for a jog in Central Park! Cool but comfortable, but we missed the chance to sign up for some 10k that was already in progress. No free shirts for us. We split up early but all pretty much did the loop around the entire park. I took a detour to do the Marathon Man thing around the reservoir. Odd coincidence: I made a Marathon Man reference at work the week before (yes, it was the "is it safe" quote...). Afterwards, Lisa and I saw a STREET FIGHT at Columbus Circle outside the subway entrance. Two on one. Faces in the pavement. Very uncomfortable. Two large guys large enough to break up a fight with three large guys eventually intervened. We subwayed 1/2 way back, getting off early on a whim and walked right into a street fair. I ended up with a polish sausage sandwich and Lisa with a gyro. Rule #1 of street fairs: you must purchase delicious food. We all met up later at Murray's to tour the cheese caves. They're underground and more like big cheese closets with an entrance was marked by the Batman symbol.

nyc-2009.no-fun

Split up and Lisa and I headed to Williamsburg (in Brooklyn) for Sonic Youth at the No Fun Fest. I had known of and listened to SY's noise rock experiments and knew they were big proponents, but it wasn't until we walked up into the balcony and were knocked back by a wave of white noice, glitch, at screaming that I realized what we were in for. I'd listened to some in college (Throbbing Gristle and The Swans) but never went to a show. This ended up being the most uncomfortable, surprising, and ultimately one of the top five concerts I've ever been to. Every artist seemed to write not only in their own style, but in an entirely unique genre. Ear plugs were mandatory (we were prepared) yet while Lisa and I were constantly checking our for fear that they'd fall out during some of the more brutal numbers, some people went earplugless. I can't imagine. While the majority of the music leaned towards loud and abrasive, there were a couple of outright beautiful pieces. Some of what I remember:

  • First up: German guy yelling insults at the crowd while white noise was generated from his laptop. Afterwards, silence as he sat facing the side of the stage. People would yell insults at him and periodically he would denounce bourgeois society.
  • Three guys facing each other at a table with banks of electronics. Red spotlights illuminating their faces from below. Warlocks evoking music. Very diverse set. At one point they all take off their shirts (to cheering) and one bangs on a piece of metal connected to pickups.
  • Four guys in suits. Two working a table full of electronics; two (one ~60 years old) performing interpretive dance. (Sons of God, video)
  • A six piece band playing the only "rock" songs of the evening. Nice enough, but as Lisa said: "after the other stuff, that was pretty boring."
  • Three piece with drums, violin, and an instrument that consisted of a box in one hand and a thick wand in the other. Variations in their proximity made different sounds. Excellent. (Toral Yeh Tremain, video)

Check out the various videos on YouTube. Here's a clip from SY's set:

Throughout the evening, I was constantly ending up next to one or more of the members of Sonic Youth: out front, at the bar, in the balcony, standing at a urinal. Alas, when I finally had something to say, Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore sat next to us at the bar, they were getting their ears talked off by some chatty drunk. Whatever. It was still pretty neat, and the Music Hall of Williamsburg was an awesome venue!

Sunday was low-key brunch at Friend of a Farmer. Very good. We met up with Julie and Greg afterwards and I chatted with him about the show until they had to head home to get ready for the Sunday matinee. Then Lisa and I head over to Giant Robot where I got a cool new sticker for my car:

A Giant Robot followed me back from NYC! on Twitpic

Another successful trip!

posted by sstrader at 3:58 PM in Art , Where was I? | tagged nyc, restaurant, sonic youth, wine, yoko kanno | permalink | comments (0)

May 20, 2009

Visa Black

The best aspect of this "economic downturn" has been less credit card junk mail. Today, however, I received my first in a long while:

visa-black

Yes, that annual fee is $495.

No, I will not be applying to reap the benefits of its 24-hour concierge service and patent pending carbon card.

posted by sstrader at 8:02 PM in Personal | permalink | comments (0)

May 12, 2009

Where was I?

tickets.mahler-6th

Out first Mahler symphony live back on the 24th. Runnicles gave a short talk at the podium beforehand outlining the major themes and providing a quick biographic background for the piece. A nice addition to the evening. Forget where we went afterwards for dinner. :-/

movie.star-trek

Star Trek on Friday the 8th of this month. Outstanding reboot of the series; everything I'd hoped. I went in enjoying the Spock and came out liking the gruff McCoy more. It was the perfect movie for a Friday nite after the work week: action and visual flair but with an engaging story. Dinner at Top Flr aftewards. We sat downstairs in a quiet little back corner booth. Nice.

Looking forward to Moon with Sam Rockwell. June 12th in NY and LA. Love the computer in the trailer:

Off to a long weekend on NYC. Flight leave tomorrow night at 7...

posted by sstrader at 7:59 AM in Cinema , Concerts , Where was I? | permalink | comments (0)

May 6, 2009

Digital scores

My dream of having easy and affordable access to a music library may be much closer with the announced release of the Kindle DX. The screen looks pretty nice, it finally supports PDFs, and the price is more manageable than that of a tablet PC. Also, browsing the thousands of PDF scores from IMSLP at my piano would be easier with the thinner Kindle. And it's quite an improvement over the too-ugly-to-exist first generation Kindle. Need to wait for reviews of how well it truly supports PDFs though.

posted by sstrader at 4:34 PM in Home Network & Gadgets , Music | tagged ebooks | permalink | comments (0)