A Bedraggled Angel–Women & Rock

January 10th, 2011 § 1 comment

“It wasn’t pretty, but I was with you all the way,” Patti Smith said as she concluded the first of her annual New Year’s performances at the Bowery Ballroom Wednesday night. In Just Kids, Patti wrote that whatever you’re doing on the new year will be a premonition of what you do that year, which is perhaps why it makes perfect sense for her to play three shows in the final days of December, and to bring in the new year with music. Her opening night is apparently more a “rehearsal” than anything else—“I don’t know why you come tonight”, she said Wednesday, calling us insane—the second performance is Patti Smith’s birthday—she turned sixty four this year—and the closing night is of course New Year’s Eve.

My first time taking part in her tradition, and I unknowingly picked the rehearsal performance. Surrounded by an aging crowd who sees her year after year, listening to Patti tell me about the changes in her work that have transpired between last year’s show and this year’s, (apparently all she had to share of Just Kids last year was the finished cover of the unpublished book), I felt like I had unintentionally picked the worst show for the same reason that the first camera you buy isn’t the best one you will ever own: you have to earn the right to buy a better one. Next year I will see the birthday show, and the year after that perhaps I will brave the crowd and share the new year with Patti Smith. As entertaining and inspiring as I think it would be to spend the last hours of the year listening to Patti ramble and rock, I’m happy that this year I got my feet wet slowly: she seems to require a certain amount of getting used to.

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Back-To-Back

July 16th, 2010 § 0 comments

I love New York in the summertime, which is to say, I love summertime after winter in New York. I am certainly not alone in this sentiment as the whole city becomes energized as the sun comes furtively back out and the humidity index starts to rise. By the time we enter July, a month full of rainshowers, humidity, and shorter office hours, summer happiness is in full swing, and that nervous energy that makes nyc so unique becomes infectious and impossible to avoid. There is nothing quite like feeling as though you’re living the good life of relaxation and leisure while not living anything remotely like it. All those activities that go on throughout the year in nyc—bike riding, day trips, concerts, eating and drinking—take on a different feel in summertime as they make their way outdoors. As everyone takes advantage of their time off work—my company’s handbook recommends that you use your vacation time in July—the city turns into a sweaty mass of new yorkers and tourists trying to make every day of summer count. I enjoy feeling like summer is slipping away too quickly as it gives new urgency to all my desired but unaccomplished experiences.

The Cloisters

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An Endless Fascination

January 12th, 2010 § 0 comments

madonnaWho Shot Rock & Roll, on display through the 31st at the Brooklyn Museum, was surprisingly one of the best shows I saw in 2009. It was oddly underwhelming at the same time that it was deeply satisfying, in the same way that a chocolate covered strawberry never tastes as good as imagined, but in itself remains difficult to dislike. On the surface—despite the multitude of reviewers forced to discuss the deeper connections between rock & roll, celebrity and their constructed image, and the roll photography plays in mediating between the two—this show could be summed up as a crowd pleaser. While it is easy to roll our eyes at yet another Van Gogh or Dali exhibition, shows that appeal to our cultural understanding of “good art,” it is harder to make an argument against the type of images we simply can’t resist. Who Shot Rock & Roll goes deeper than this, however, not necessarily because the exhibition really is deeper, but because whatever the photographs lack the viewers make up for through the interest they bring to them.

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Eccentric Soul Revue

November 17th, 2009 § 0 comments

It was a drunken and disheveled Syl Johnson I saw stumble about the stage at the Music Hall of Williamsburg Friday night, gesticulating a bit uncontrollably and singing with all his inebriated soul. Not exactly at the top of his game, but somehow he still made the show; just not exactly in the way you might expect.

An Old Master

October 25th, 2009 § 1 comment

Leonard Cohen

If I had to make two assumptions about Leonard Cohen based simply on his stage persona, seen during last night’s concert from a very distant seat at Madison Square Garden, I would assume he is deeply humble and too spry for a man of 75. Hat in hand as he bowed to his band, or waltzing on and off the stage during a ridiculous number of encores, stretching the concert out into a three hour ordeal, it was undeniable that Cohen was having fun. Somehow I would expect the youthful Indie bands I venture out to see to be full of grateful energy rather than an aging Canadian folk singer who’s reputation needs no confirmation, but I realized as I sat listening last night that Cohen was brimming with enjoyment. Speaking to the crowd after a few opening songs, he deep voice rumbling throughout the arena, he thanked us for coming, for braving the rain and the traffic, and said, “I don’t know when I will be passing this way again, so I want you to know….we are going to give you everything we’ve got tonight.” As the crowd surged I thought he had summed up exactly why I was there: who knows when Leonard Cohen will be passing through town again in concert.

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