Broadway, Burglary, and Sergeants Bert & Ernie

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014 | Art, Film, Food, Friends, Travel

Big Chrissy and I took a trip to New York City for Christmas.  We had our luggage stolen from our hotel room, but we saw some great shows, were photographed by Bill Cunningham buying bananas in Brooklyn, and got to ride in a cop car!

The night our luggage was stolen, we made our way to the local precinct to report the burglary.  It was just like in Barney Miller, a shabby interior filled with wise-cracking, heavily-New-York-accented helpful cops.  They drove us back to our hotel in a real NYPD cruiser, but somehow the back seat was pushed forward taking up all the legroom, so Chrissy sat side-saddle and I in a lotus position.  Looking through the rain-smeared windows at the blinking lights outside I thought of Taxi Driver and Bernard Hermann’s haunting score.  “This is totally worth being burgled,” I told the cops.

We spent several hours with them at the hotel, as we waited for the fingerprint guy.  I told them that we had already fouled the crime scene and that fingerprints weren’t necessary and that in San Francisco the police would have never taken the theft of our underwear and socks so seriously.  “Aren’t there other crimes in the neighborhood that you guys should be looking into?  Rapes?  Murders?”  Sergeants Bert & Ernie looked at us gravely, “We take every crime seriously.”  Chrissy and I just melted.  New York cops are indeed the finest.

We saw Isaac Julien’s ridiculous but sumptuous installation at MoMA, supposedly about some tragic drowning, but really about Maggie Cheung flying over gorgeous Chinese scenery, the subject matter seemingly of no real interest to the artist or anybody there.  The Margritte show was just a delight, completely amazing the dazzlingly mature and inventive body of work that he produced from the ages of 28-30.  Walking through Mike Kelly’s retrospective at PS1, the only thought that came to mind was that suicide was inevitable.  Ah, Wangechi Mutu’s show at the Brooklyn Museum was the show for me.  First of all, nobody goes there, to the Brooklyn Museum, so you can really spend time with the work with no one taking pictures over your shoulders.  She creates collages and sculptural pieces that are simultaneously lovely and disturbing, two qualities that I strive for but rarely achieve.  I’m totally going to steal from her this year, so watch out…

On Broadway we saw two Pinter plays, No Man’s Land with Ian McKellan and Captain Picard, and Beyrayal with Rafe Spall, Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz. Pinter can create scenes that have nothing to do with plot or story, just language, how we use it, what it does… Of course there usually is some kind of story, but the dialogue is about the essence of communication and words liberated from silly things like narrative. We also saw the awesome Laurie Metcalf and Jeff Goldblum in Domesticated, which takes as its thesis the basic inessential and catastrophe-prone nature of the male of the species. We saw a couple of other things, but I don’t think they were all that memorable, so let’s move on…

We met up with Emily for a traditional Ukranian Christmas Eve repast at Veselka’s in the East Village, followed by American Hustle. As we left the movie, and once again Jennifer Lawrence was dynamite, after having eaten all the same things and with Chrissy and I about to explode, Emily announced that she was going out for dinner. What a metabolism! And she’s like this super skinny chick. “I’ll have what she’s having.”

We spent Christmas lunch eating Swedish meatballs in the West Village and seeing Jia Jiang-Ke’s completely depressing A Little Sin on those stupid little IFC screens that they should really only charge $5 entry to see, then meeting my brother Paul and sister-in-law Debbie at their hotel near Grand Central. Chrissy and I didn’t want to leave their room–unlike ours, theirs had a window. And a view. Not that ours didn’t have a window, or a view, of sorts. Our window opened onto a narrow eternally dark alley that only a pigeon could squeeze into, our view the filthy building windows next door, mounded with pigeon poop dating back to the early days of Broadway. We enjoyed a really great French dinner in the West Village, laughing and stuffing ourselves silly. The next morning we met at the big tree in Rockefeller Center and toured the murals in the GE Building, imagining what Diego Rivera’s mural there would have looked like. It was ordered destroyed by Nelson Rockefeller after Rivera refused to replace Lenin’s portrait with that of an anonymous face. The subsequent murals, by Josep Maria Cert, form an almost homoerotic allegory depicting big beefy white guys constructing modern America in loin cloths–just like I’ve imagined it…

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