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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Our Suspension of Disbelief

October 23rd, 2009 § 0 comments

Watching the new documentary made by and about The Yes Men forced me to remember that it is easy to confuse something’s popularity in nyc with its popularity throughout the country. For most people, The Yes Men Fix the World probably needs a lot more background explanation than most other documentaries. While nyc, especially after the New York Times prank of last winter, is full of enthusiastic supporters of their political pranks—film audiences here were lead off after certain screenings to perform late night, humor based vandalism—I usually find myself explaining the group to others elsewhere.

the yes men

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The Rorschach Island

October 12th, 2009 § 2 comments

“The island is one-fifth the size of Central Park, and more than twenty times the size of Bryant Park. It is less than half a mile from Manhattan, and even closer to Brooklyn.”


Governors Island was touted this spring in everything from the nytimes to the new york magazine as the cities newest summer destination—the great “undiscovered” location for all summer activities. After spending a recent Saturday wandering the perimeter and interior of the island, I discovered that it feels much more like a historical ghost town than the most popular location citywide to spend a sunny weekend. The islands history makes it sound like one of those hand-me-downs no one wants to wear and keeps passing onto younger siblings and cousins. This summer the island was finally passed down to the public. Governors Island—where no governor has ever lived—is an extremely odd mix of bits and pieces left behind from the numerous different hands of ownership it has passed through since it was first inhabited in 1613, and while it does not function yet as the urban park it is trying to become, it is aesthetically fascinating because of its oddities.

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Looking Twice

September 21st, 2009 § 0 comments

I remember Chicago the way I imagine I saw it as an 18-year-old girl fresh from the southern California suburbs. Unlike Richmond it has been four years since I have seen Chicago, and it has taken me a long time to make it back. It was surreal, deplaning at O’Hare, to see a place I have forgotten so easily and yet somehow remember so well. My memory of Chicago, or my mis-remembrance of it, has a heightened sense of everything. I remember the city being bigger, busier, scarier, louder, dirtier, harder, more threatening, more overwhelming, more segregated, and much less enjoyable than it now seems. I was amused by how narrow and small the subway cars were, they seemed like toy cars with their fabric seats and tight aisles, and I was dumbly amazed when I stepped off at Logan Sq. and the platform was completely deserted. I can’t remember the last time I saw an empty subway platform that was in service. Much of this, certainly, is the direct contradiction with my current city, but more interesting is the fact that most of what I saw contradicted the images in my memory.


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Three Septembers Later

September 17th, 2009 § 0 comments

You missed a great year for the merciless banter you loved. We would have teased you endlessly for turning 30 before the rest of us, and I would have spent an afternoon searching for a delightfully horrible card to commemorate the beginning of us “getting old.” You, on the other hand, could have made humorous stuff from my being separated at twenty-five after a long and perplexed marriage. As funny as a truckload of dead babies you might have said, and rightfully so.


It is too easy to be disappointed with people who have died. We expect them, though perhaps not literally, to be alive in all the ways we expect people who are alive to be. We want friends when alone, comfort when upset, consolation when afraid, advice when lost. The deceased, no matter how much we loved and miss them, do not readily provide these living human functions, which is perhaps why we miss them more, or most, in times of need. Damn it, can’t you just wander in while I am sleeping and give me your take on this situation? I catch myself every so often thinking these things and selfishly wishing you could be a little bit here even while still being there.

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