Posts Tagged With: new york

Art and Dreams

“Is this art?” asked the man doing a handstand over my head as I lay back, staring up at him. I didn’t know. “I don’t know, either,” he responded before somehow bounding back to his feet and pulling me off on another adventure at the immursive spectacle/dinner theater Queen of the Night.
 
On the other side of my trip into the Diamond Horseshoe, I’ve decided it’s art, but more than art. It’s art+; so much more intense, more personal than anything I’ve encountered before. It blurs the lines between what is and what could be, and when you come out of those murkey woods, you feel a little different than before. This sounds melodramatic, I know, but as most of you know, I’m sort of obsessed with Sleep No More, another experiential theater piece. Yes, part of the reason is the story, I do love Shakespeare, and Macbeth is fascinating. But honestly, it’s that experience. It’s the blurring of that line between fiction and reality, between who I am and who I could be. And in my quest to experiment with that line, I found Queen of the Night. 

Last night found my partner in crime, Sari, and I at the Paramount Hotel, donned in our finest cocktail attire. 

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The first steps into the Diamond Horseshoe seemed underwhelming…and under construction. The walls were bare, white drywall, and the coat check was constructed out of those weird boards they use for scaffolding. I’m still undecided if this is intentional or if it’s actually under construction. Why would it be intentional? Because there’s a slow descent into the night. As soon as you turn the corner, you are faced with an old, weathered marble stair case. Dusty champagne glasses are stacked in the corner of the first landing as if they’ve been uncovered from an archaeological dig. But the deeper you go, the cleaner, brighter, more lavish things are. 
 
While waiting on the stairs, Sari was suddenly whisked away by a lanky blonde man in outlandish clothes, leaving me crushed that I was left behind. But a moment later, another man in short shorts and a black-and-white motley suit coat came up the stairs and caught my eye. We stared at each other for a moment (intense eye contact is a frequent occurrence), and he put his hand on the shoulder of the girl in front of me. ‘Denied again!’ I thought. But he looked up at me again, a wicked gleam in his eyes, extended his hand, and we were off. I was given a slip of paper and told to pick a drink (the drinks were outlandish, full of strange fruits and herbs.) After ordering me to take a drink (“Good girl,” he praised), he vanished. I stood sipping for a moment before I ran into Sari again, returned from her own adventure with a quest to deliver a note. We had a moment to chat before a young woman approached me and asked if I could help her, and I was pulled away again down the rabbit hole. Over the course of the next 30 minutes, I met and assisted the princess, snuck around the kitchens, and scored a whole bottle of Prosecco before I reunited with Sari to compare our discoveries. During all of this, the strangest part, and the most challenging part, was being myself. In Sleep No More I can hide behind a mask, I’m voiceless. I follow wordless instructions. But here, I could engage and be engaged. It was both thrilling and a little terrifying.
 
Soon after reuniting, we were seated, sharing a table on one of the raised platform with a very nice couple. The performance was amazing. Dancing, circus stunts, acrobatics…I’m sure I watched the first half with my mouth hanging open. Later, dinner was served: gilded cages of lobsters, whole roast pigs on spits, heaping plates of ribs. Apparently, if we wanted to try all the dishes, we had to barter. Luckily, we received the lobsters, the hot commodity, and people came to us to trade, bearing plates of rib and the most delicious pork I’ve ever tasted. My poor little grad student body didn’t know what to do with such delicacies!
 
After we’d eaten, the show resumed, as entertaining as ever. Dessert was served in quite an interesting way after a truly beautiful ending to the performance. The whole evening was magical and sensual and transporting.
 

I went into the show thinking I’d come out with an answer: which was better? But the truth is, you can’t compare Queen of the Night and Sleep No More. I love them both in different ways. While in Sleep No More, I am a ghost who haunts the story, powerless to help or harm, enchanted to watch, at Queen of the Night I was the Chloe I might be in a fairy tale. I was the Chloe who made eye contact and boldly put herself in situations that made her slightly uncomfortable. I was the Chloe who believed in true love and ran off, hand-in-hand with strange boys, to raid the kitchen and steal champagne. As to the question Jimmy asked me as he hovered above me, I still can’t say if it’s art. But I will say it’s spectacle and adventure, and just maybe you might leave a little bolder, a little more enchanted than when you arrived.

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Just Getting Started

As you may be aware, we have gotten a ton of snow lately. This has resulted in at least one snow day a week for the past month (I went back to work today after 5 days off, between the snow days, the weekend, anImaged Presidents Day). I never thought I’d say this, but I’m thoroughly sick of snow! SO SICK OF IT. At least in Ohio I could hide in a nice warm car…in the city it’s all ice slicks and puddles and sand-snow-slush. I like winter, but I’ve decided that February is a pointless month. It should just go home so we can all go outside again!
The plus side to all the snow (besides the snow days) is that I’ve finally forced myself to sit down and write a blog post! January was quite a month. 2014 has certainly gotten off to a great start.  In addition to 50-something inches of snow, there’s been a birthday, some good news, and some adventures.
The birthday was quite the extravaganza. I had some extra vacation days from 2013 that I had to use by the end of February, so I decided to take a four-day weekend for my 24th. I celebrated with some excellent mac and cheese and even better company Friday night. If nothing else comes from New York, at least it’s introduced me to this wonderful, crazy bunch of people. I continued my revelry on Saturday with a a birthday visit to Sleep No More with Rayna and her sister. It was another excellent show. I really love that each visit brings me deeper into the story and helps me solve some of the mysteries. I think Rayna and her sister enjoyed the show; it was their first trip to the McKittrick. I’m hoping I can lure them back another time because there’s still so much to discover! While at the McKittrick, I finally met up with some of the Sleep No More fans I follow on Tumblr. They were very friendly, and I’m hoping we can meet again soon to compare stores!
So, other adventures. In January, I got tickets to see Birdy perform at the McKittrick. It was a lovely, intimate little show, and I really enjoyed it. From what I overheard in the elevator, it was mostly a show for music tobogganindustry people, so the crowd was really chill. I quite enjoyed myself, and Birdy herself was amazing. What a voice! Later in the month we braved the Super Bowl crowds to ride the toboggan in/near Times Square. It was an hour and a half wait (after you got the tickets), but it was fun! After all, how many times can you say that you rode a giant slide down Broadway?
So far, February has been just as busy. We returned to school at the end of January and I’m loving my Children’s Publishing class. Finance is finance, but not the worst thing I’ve ever taken. On the fun side, I managed to snag a pair of tickets to see the Colbert Report, which was a blast. If you see the February 4 episode (Pussy Riot was the guest), you might be able to spot Sari and me in the crowd (though I hope not; I was completely unprepared to go to a taping of a show; I was wearing a I-need-to-do-laundry sweater from the back of my closet and my hair was…well, my hair. But spontaneity, right?). Later that same week I went to another comedy taping for Steve Byrne. He was…semi-funny. If you run out of things on Netflix and watch his comedy hour on Netfilx, you might see me and Rayna looking vastly uncomfortable in the fifth row. But even if the comedy wasn’t super funny (it was sort of funny), I enjoyed watching how they set up for a comedy taping like that. Plus, the opening comedian was the guy taking over for Seth Meyers on SNL, so that was cool (Note: He was much funnier than Steve Byrne). And I got to have Eggs Benedict for dinner.
Now, finally, for the big news: I’m going to London with NYU! NYU is organizing a trip to London to volunteer at the London Book Fair, and I was one of the students selected to go! I’m so excited; I love going to BEA, and I can’t wait to see what a more internationally-focused book fair is like. Plus, my friend from Brazil, Marilia, will be there on business, so I will get to celebrate her birthday with her! We don’t have many details yet, but I can barely wait until April!
2014 has been a success so far! I’ve always felt more comfortable with even years, so I hope there’s more to come. I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of the year brings!
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“If not to heaven, then hand in hand to hell”: Truly Old School Theater

In college, we had to see a Shakespeare play and compare its take to the text. There was a glam rock production of Richard III in town that featured David Bowie and puppets. It was strange to say the least; after intermission, Richard entered the stage as king dressed in full Iggy Pop gear. It was the only time I’d seen a production of the play until last night. It was an interesting take, comparing Richard’s use of a persona to that of a rock star.

Mark Ryance’s production of Richard III may not have David Bowie, but it has to be one of the coolest theater production I’ve ever seen. In case you don’t know, this production is as authentically Elizabethan as possible- men play women, candles adorn the set, the actors dress on stage before the performance, there are no mics, and an Elizabethan style music troupe performs atop the set. It was a fun experience to watch the actors dress, and it was interesting to see it done as it might have been done back in the day (you know, WAY back in the day). And I won’t even mention the curtain call…the curtain call was perhaps my favorite part of the whole approach, and I don’t want to spoil it!

 

While I love the detail that went into this production, I think the authenticity was the least interesting of Rylance’s choices in the production–which is saying something! His Richard was not the dastardly mastermind but a mad and perhaps accidental genius. He would cackle mid-soliloquy, prance about like a fool, and molest poor Anne’s fingers in a rather horrific fashion. While I always read the play as a terrible man (but slightly sympathetic, he has, after all had a tough lot in life) who goes insane as the weight of his greedy deeds mounts, Rylance’s portrayal shows a man who is already slightly insane who goes off the deep end entirely once he gains power. Many of the scenes that are often chilling were actually funny in Rylance’s hands. He reminded me of Albert Finney in Scrooge. (I doubt anyone will get that reference, I think my mom and I are the only people in the world who have seen and adore that film, but it’s a fantastic performance.) He was funny, and because of that, you like him, even though he’s a homicidal maniac. I’m not sure it was my favorite interpretation, I’d have to see more actual productions (read: non glam rock themed), but it was really enjoyable, and I’m even more excited to see their production of Twelfe Night next week.

With my discussion of Shakespeare aside, it’s been busy as usual. Finals week is coming up, so things have been quiet as I’m too busy studying and preparing papers and trying not to run screaming through the streets to do anything interesting. It was nice to go home for Thanksgiving and see my family. I enjoyed taking a break from the busy city to eat a lot of food and check out the country craft fairs. I’m starting to get into the Christmas spirit; once I finish finals I think I will be in full holiday cheer mode!

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Random Musings

There’s a tiny courtyard not far from where I work that perfectly describes life in New York. It’s a tiny little improvisation of the gap between an ancient church and a monstrosity of an office building. It’s such a surprising little slice of nature, with its carefully manicured gardens lining the edges and even a square of grass towards the back.

But then you go back to sit on the grass and you realize it’s plastic. And the suits around you seem a little too silent as they eat their lunch on the checkerboard cement tables. And you have a choice. You can look at the perfect gardens and the fake grass and the non-talking Wall Street suits taking up all the seats and you can be disappointed, even angry, that you’ve been misled, that it’s all a big plastic and nothing is truly real. And I think everyone goes through that phase, whether it’s when they discover the hidden courtyard or when they move to the big city. But you can also choose to sit on the low brick wall at the back and kick off your shoes in the plastic grass. You can eat your lunch at the cute little green table and revel in the cool shade cast from the nondescript office building and the peaceful silence of lunchtime and this alcove of the city.

Like living in the city, it’s easy to be annoyed and frustrated and disappointed. It’s what they don’t tell you about New York–The day to day of it all, at least at first, sucks quite a bit. But you try to deal with the suckiness and find the surprising little secrets. You unpack you lunch, open your book, and enjoy the corners where you find those secrets.

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Visitors, Books, Theater, and Shopping: A Summary

In businessy blog news, I’ve changed the title! KnowEdits doesn’t really work anymore as A. I’m still not editing and B. this blog has nothing to do with editing. So it can be about my knowing things, or my not knowiFrying Pan 8ng things. Hopefully I will find a better title, but for now this works.

It’s official. I have survived my first year in New York. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been a lot of fun. I’ve made a ton of wonderful friends, gotten to see some fascinating new takes on theater, and gotten accepted into grad school. Busy year!

Two weeks ago, my friends Marilia, from Brazil, and Katie, from Chicago, came to town for the much-anticipated BEA. It was wonderful to see them, especially as June marked our one year anniversary. We discovered an interesting bar on the west side, which is actually an old boat on a barge. The drinks were pricey (though not too much more than average), and the views were gorgeous. We went to BEA, which was just as hectic and fun as last year. I didn’t get any business cards, but I did walk away with 25 books, 4 comics, a handful of tote bags, and a really awesome set of Rainbow Fish stickers.Frying Pan 3

That Tuesday, Marilia, Vivian, Tabitha and I went to see Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. The musical is based on a passage from Tolstoy’s War & Peace and includes a Russian dinner. It was a blast! The dinner was quite tasty, the theater was gorgeous (especially since the “theater” is actually a huge white tent…it was easy to forget that once inside), and the play itself was electric. There wasn’t a stage; instead the actors ran around through the audience, singing their stories. The whole thing was really fun and creative. I’ve decided I really like these new interactive forms of theater. I’m getting spoiled by all these avant-garde works in the city!Brooklyn Flea 1

Sadly, Marilia and Katie went home, but the apartment was empty for long. My mom came for a visit last Friday. We had a really nice time. The city was rather wet, but we managed to keep busy. We visited our favorite pizza place in DUMBO, found some treasures at the Brooklyn flea, and introduced Mom to the wonder of soup dumpling. We also explored the depths of Brooklyn in search of a clothing store at Kings Plaza. Getting there was an adventure full of interesting bus rides, but the store was worth it. Monday was her last full day, and we tried to go to Union Square. It was so miserable even the crazy people weren’t out, though, so after lunch at the Tortaria and coffee around the corner, we headed home to pack and nap. We found a tasty spot in Little Italy for dinner.

I’m glad I’ll be going home for a week in July, I almost forgot how much I miss my family. After a year here, that’s still one of the harder parts. But,   there’s no weird theater in Ohio, and most of all no publishing. So, I’m still here, and with grad school starting in the fall, it seems things are going to keep getting busier!

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I dare do all that may become a man.

Hello old friend!

Well, so much for my New Year’s resolution to post more. I have, however, kept my resolution to DO more. The past 3 months have been full of doing. From advanced screenings of movies to finding new bars with friends to sitting on the Iron Throne of Westeros.

I think one of my favorite discoveries is Sleep No More, a theater experience in a converted warehouse space in Chelsea. The show is Macbeth meets Hitchcock meets a creepy adult playground. There are five floors to explore over the course of three hours, and the show loops three times, splitting up and running all over the 100 different rooms. The show itself is beautiful and wonderful and more than a little intoxicating. The closeness of the actors and the fact the whole point is to be brave and explore (“Fortune favors the bold”) makes for a unique and exhilarating experience. But it’s more than that. The very atmosphere is magical, full of mystery and possibility. Even The McKittrick’s other event spaces are wonderful. Last night, some friends and I went to a concert at the upstairs restaurant, and it was wonderful. It felt like what New York should be, sitting in a booth with my friends sipping overpriced but deliciously classy cocktails and listening to chill bluesy covers in a dimly lit plush bar.

In a city that is very often isolating, where we put on our headphones and turn up our music and try not to meet anyone’s eye, there’s something to be said about an experience that makes eye contact sensual and a simple hand hold exhilarating. At The McKittrick, whether you are there for the show or just there to relax and have a drink, it’s easy to feel like you’re part of something, something sophisticated and secret and wonderful.

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The View from Mars

“I need to write a blog about this. I need to write a blog. I NEED TO WRITE A BLOG.”

Or so I’ve been thinking to myself pretty regularly for the past 4 weeks. AND I’M FINALLY DOING IT. Apologies (as usual) for the delay in posting. I can’t even say I’ve been particularly busy. I mean, I have been busy, but I’ve had plenty of free time since the NYU program wrapped up July 13. I’ve had plenty of adventures, too. The New York philharmonic, job interviews, and more recently duck in Chinatown (complete with the head), “Into the Woods” at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, and The Curiosity Rover Landing.

And that’s what I’m going to talk about. When I saw that they would be broadcasting the landing in Times Square, I decided I had to go. I mean, I’m in New York, and this is a big deal, it would be like a big party right? Well, partially right. At first, the whole affair was a bit disappointing. It was on possibly the tiniest screen in Times Square, and to hear we had to hold our phones to our ears, and most of the people in the area were more interested in finding themselves on the big advertising screen over the McDonald’s. Maybe they didn’t know that we were about to attempt the MOST DIFFICULT MARS LANDING EVER, but it was frustrating. Didn’t anyone appreciate what we were about to do? Didn’t this deserve a slightly larger screen, a bigger deal? I’m not sure what I expected, I guess a packed square with trumpets blaring and mars confetti or something.

That said, it was really cool. The closer to 1:31 AM it got, the more people who actually cared gathered. There were some nice people from NASA handing out pins and stickers, several news crews, and some really awesome nerdy shirts (including a bedazzled R2D2 shirt). And as we listened to the NASA landing crew talk to each other, not really understanding what they were saying but hoping it was good, there was finally an air of excitement that felt appropriate. No, the square still wasn’t full, but there was something about being in such a big, shiny place, holding my breath with several hundred others as we watched the anxious faces on the screen. And then…success. It touched down. A cheer went up around the square; one guy behind us was yelling “We did it! We did it!”

Up on the screen, we could see the NASA scientists celebrating. They were hugging and yelling and high fiving. That must be the most amazing feeling, knowing that your hard work put something on another planet. I mean, sure, we’ve done it before, but Curiosity is going to allow us to get more knowledge than ever, and just the sheer difficulty of achieving a safe landing is something to marvel at, no matter how many times it’s been done before.

And then the first pictures came in. Sitting in Times Square, we were seeing pictures of another planet. It was astounding. Truly breathtaking, and definitely anything but disappointing.

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Maybe We Should Have Gone to Hoboken, and Other Adventures

Oh, hello! I haven’t forgotten about you, dear blog, I’ve just been (all together now) SO BUSY! So, a collection of Adventures:

Saturday

We honored the 15th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by going to see Potted Potter, which was absolutely brilliant. Probably the funniest 70 minutes I’ve had in a while, Potted Potter felt like I was watching my friends make jokes (looking at you, Emmy). The jokes were largely things we’ve all laughed about before (“It’s like there’s two parts of the last book, they camp, and then everyone dies. They should make it into two movies, the first part with all the camping, the second part with all the dying.”), but on a bigger, more ridiculous scale. There was also a really epic game of Quidditch, played by the audience and some really violent 8-year-old seekers. It was AMAZING.

After the play, we went to Barcelona Bar, which serves a legendary Harry Potter shot. There was fire, wizards hats, and a lot of awesome. I really need to go back, there’s apparently a Game of Thrones shot (you drink or you die, I hear…). We ended the evening at Pizza Pub for a slice of pizza and a bar-wide sing along with “Don’t Stop Believing.”

Wednesday

One of my good friends in the program is from Brazil, and I was determined to give her a proper Fourth of July. With no grill and no place to go, we decided to have a cook IN. In true New York fashion, we squeezed about 15 people into a space that comfortably seats maybe 6 and with only a minor mishap with the broiler (it’s not Independence Day without some singed fingers, right?) we had a delicious meal of burgers, hot dogs, and various other American foods, including berries and homemade whipped cream!

In which we fail at taking self-portraits and I am too short.

After an excellent pot luck dinner, we headed out for the fireworks. There was some debate over where to go, and we ended up splitting up. Half the group went to Hoboken for the show. The rest of us, deciding they were crazy to go to New Jersey of all places decided to do what real Americans do and go west randomly. It worked for the pioneers, right? Somewhere around 59th St, we stumbled onto the viewing section on the highway, and I stumbled into some sneaky thorn bushes in the divide. But the scratches and sore feet were worth it; we were ready for what we were sure was going to be the best view of the fireworks in the city….except for the trees. Low and behold, when the big boom started, there were trees perfectly blocking our view!

But, the night was not a loss! With some more wandering we managed to find a better view of the show, and following the sea of people through the streets afterwards, we ended up in Times Square. Remember last time when I was talking about the throb of the city? There is no better place to feel excited and alive than Time Square at night, especially after a day of celebrating and firework-watching with your friends.

Friday

Friday was field trip day! We got to go to NYU Bookstore and watch the Espresso On Demand Book machine, which was pretty cool. Then we got some delicious Mexican food in Union Square before heading to Books of Wonder to meet the wonderfully enthusiastic Peter Glassman. One of the things I love best about this program is meeting all the people who are as unabashedly passionate about books as I am, and Mr. Glassman might be one the most passionate people I’ve met. We sat on the floor for an hour listening to him talk about his favorite books and tell us stories about the industry and basking in the glow of his enthusiasm. It was a wonderful afternoon.

I think that’s about it for the big stuff. We went on several field trip in the past few weeks, including a trip to Macmillan in the Flatiron Building which was really neat. We got to see the CEO’s office, which has a balcony overlooking Madison Square Park. It’s one of the prettiest views of the city I’ve seen!  I also went to the MOMA on Friday and reaffirmed that I don’t really understand modern art. I prefer paintings. I loved seeing Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Monet’s Reflections of Clouds on the Water-Lily Pond. I couldn’t believe how big the water lilies painting was! I always imagined them to be about the poster size that was in one of my high school teacher had on his wall, but the canvas was almost the size of the wall! It was gorgeous.

That brings us up to date! My adventures in the city since last time. Now, this blog post is already too long, which means I need to post more often. But for now, I’ll sign off here!

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There and Here

Another very busy week, and a possibly even busier weekend.

First, I need to say congratulations to my friends Marie and Scottie, who got married on Saturday. I can’t imagine a couple more perfect for each other, and I’m so happy for them!

It was weird, though, being unable to celebrate with them. This is the odd thing about being in New York: it’s so far from everything I’ve ever known. I had to leave behind my friends, my family, and even some of my habits. I mean, I love the subway, but I really miss being able to get in my car and drive to a huge grocery store than has everything I could want in an affordable off-brand. I miss Kroger Brand EVERYTHING. Somehow, when dreaming of starting a career in publishing, it never occurred to me that it would mean starting over completely. While literature and movies like to romanticize starting over, they forget to tell you that it’s terrifying. And a tiny bit lonely. I have made some fantastic new friends here, and I already do know people in the city. But that doesn’t stop me from missing my friends back home when I see them posting on Facebook about their adventures together, and especially when two of them start their lives together and I can’t be there to wish them well.

So there’s home…and then there’s the city. I do like hopping on a subway to get where I’m going (though I enjoy it more when it’s not 100 degrees outside). I like walking to dinner when I want to go out, and I like buying a bagel on the street in the morning when I’m running late. I like that there is something to do all the time. I like that people are unabashedly themselves. And most of all, I just like feeling a part of it, another cog in the New York machine.

Take this weekend,Image for example. This weekend was a very New York weekend. I had Photoshop and InDesign class yesterday, and I did a lot of wandering. I went to Times Square and got tickets for a play and went to the new Disney Store with a friend I haven’t seen in two years. I found the greatest fish tacos, and on the way to see Brave with my roommates, we saw a commercial being filmed, and we saw the Empire State Building lit up for Pride. And speaking of Pride, I went to the parade today, which was so much fun. There’s something about any parade that just makes you cheerful, and at this one in particular, there’s something infectious about so many people celebrating the ability to be themselves.

These are all little things, tiny adventures in the city, but they’re things I don’t do at home (I go to the movies at home, sure, but you don’t usually have an adventure on the way). I like the wandering and the seeing that you can do here.

So yeah, I have to walk nine baby blocks with my Trader Joe’s groceries, and I’m missing out on playing Black Jack at the parish festivals with my dad. But there’s an excitement in the city, it’s growing and changing all the time, and there’s a good chance that I’ll see something on my way to class tomorrow that I didn’t see any other day. The city is alive, and living here, you become part of that throb of life and growth and change. And it’s scary sometimes, but so is every adventure, and in the end, it’s so worth it.

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