Thursday, September 29, 2016

I saw "What Did You Expect?"


I saw "What Did You Expect?" off-Broadway at the Public Theater on Lafayette in NYC.


What I wore: Chinese-made Australian boots, gray mid-rise straight-legged jeans, black Lilith tank, black ATM cotton blouse, black Helmut Lang loose-knit sweater, gray and lime green Marimekko scarf, eye-makeup, ponytail, a look of bewilderment.


What I did beforehand: took a MetroNorth train to Grand Central, went to the dentist for that bad news, looked at my favorite Baby Jesus at the Morgan Library, ate, walked, counted the unsmiling people on Park Avenue (57 out of 60), talked to a guy with a dog named Barry (who did not give me high-five), arrived early at the theater, discovered I'd bought two tickets, called The Graduate to try to convince him to join me. 


Who went with me: 160 white strangers.

How I got tickets: online, with a member's discount.

Why I saw this show: it's the second part of the Gabriels play cycle: election year in the life of one family, by Richard Nelson. Part one was "Hungry," and my favorite play so far this year.


Where I sat: Row B seat 103, between an empty seat and a couple who knew the women behind me actors who've been friends since they met in a play where they were the only women in the cast, back in 1979. One of them misremembered the name of the man as "Donald," and had to tell him twice that it was all on account of politics. 

Things that were sad: I think I expected to like this play as much as the first of the cycle. But I didn't. It had all the same elements: the same set, the same actors, the same playwright.  It had similar moments of great poignancy. But it didn't sock me in the jaw with its verisimilitude, as the first had. It would be almost impossible to have done. So it will have to come in second place, behind the first. And, of course, I can hardly wait for the third and last play in the cycle, to open in November. 

Things that were funny: I objected to the way one character cut onions.

Things that were not funny: there is a man running for President of the United States of America with the full backing of one of our two main political parties that is overtly and proudly xenophobic, misogynistic, racist, tax-avoiding, bankruptcy-exploiting, fat-bashing, inarticulate, unprepared, unqualified, ungrammatical, and mean-spirited. And we have to take him seriously. 

What it is: a play, lasting one hour and forty-five minutes, without intermission. It features actors cooking and kitchen-table story-telling with some well-timed cussing, covering themes of economic inequality and the quiet desperation and loneliness of modern life. It includes a master class on script-writing, props and costuming, and features a cast of actors so subtle and real and honest in their performances that they tower above almost every other cast currently performing in New York. 

Who should see it: anyone who missed "Hungry." Anyone who should have seen "Hungry." Aspiring playwrights. Residents of Rhinebeck, New York. 


What I saw on the way home: it was very late. I stepped off the train with a chatty woman wearing a colorful scarf who wanted to go together to our cars. We had parked in different lots, and each of us had to walk alone. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I saw something in the woods

NO LITTERING

What I saw: the corner of a large, gray mattress, of custom dimensions similar to a full, with faint stains and white piping. Someone had driven a truck or van up our road, past the sign that says “NO LITTERING,” stopped, and thrown the mattress down an embankment into our woods.

Who went with me: the Bacon Provider was walking the dogs with me, his last day at home before heading out early for the first of twelve trips on his schedule between now and mid-December. I wished I found it alone, because he’s got enough to worry about.


What I did: when we got back, I called the local Bedhead Hills police non-emergency number. I spoke to a phone-answering marmalade cat, roused with a start from her early mid-afternoon nap, taking seriously her responsibility as the one who makes sure that real emergency calls go to 911. "I don't know if you're who I'm supposed to call," I said. Then I explained what I found.
"Hold on a moment," meowed the ginger cat.
It was more than a moment.
When she came back to the phone, she said, "You should call the Office of Gravel and Thoroughfares. When they open on Monday."
I asked for their number.

Things that were funny: on Monday, I had to wait until after Pilates to call. Then, I had to re-boot my phone because where we live in Bedhead Hills, we have little coverage mobile-phone-wise, so we use the wi-fi calling, and my mobile-phone company, being one of the last to add the feature of wi-fi, offers the most unreliable version of it. So then I called the Bedhead Hills Office of Gravel and Thoroughfares.
The phone was answered by a chipmunk.
"Bedhead Hills Office of Gravel and Thoroughfares, chipmunk speaking," she said, very high and very fast.
"Oh, hello," I said, stifling a yawn because Pilates is exhausting and I was not quite ready to talk on the sometimes-not-working phone to a chipmunk. "Hi, yes, ok, we found a mattress on our property yesterday. It wasn't there on Saturday, but then like I dunno someone must have thrown it out of their car and now it's there. I called the police and they said to call you?" I said it like that, asking, but not asking.
"Oh my gawd!" the chipmunk yelled before I finished talking, very loud and with great feeling. "What is it with people and the dumping!?" 

I said something to the effect that I don't know.
" Is it on the road?" asked the chipmunk.
"No, it's down the embankment, in our woods."
"Oh," said the chipmunk, "So here's the thing. If it's in the woods, I can't help you. But if it's on the road, I can send someone out today to get it. But I didn't tell you that. You never talked to me."
I forgot her name, thanked her, hung up, and changed my clothes.

What I wore: Asolo hiking boots that I bought to go to Italy in 2009 and had re-soled this past winter so they are both like-new and broken-in, heavy socks because my feet are long-suffering and weary, blue Ben Davis Union-made overalls that were a gift from my sister-in-law many years ago when we owned a farm in the San Juan Islands, an old and threadbare medium blue shirt from Barney's that was once the Bacon Provider's, work gloves. 


Why I saw this show: I pick up trash that people throw out the their cars onto my property as soon as I see it. 

How I got scratched: choosing between walking along the road and clambering down the embankment or bushwhacking through the dense, late-summer forest, I opted for the latter. It was harder to find than I thought it would be. The mattress was resting along the slope of the embankment. I tried to push it; an upholstered foam slab, it just sort of crumpled. I pinched the dingy white piping through my gloves and dragged it up behind me. It didn't smell as bad as I feared it would. 

Things that were not funny: had the litterbug left it on the shoulder of the road, they could have saved me the trouble. 

Things that were sad: having dragged it out of the woods, I saw that it left a wide area of crushed weeds. I did feel some of that satisfaction of doing something hard. Only later did I find the scratches on my arms.


Another thing that was funny: I tried to call the chipmunk at the Bedhead Hills Office of Gravel and Thoroughfares right away, but I had neither enough cell-phone bars from the sky-gods nor enough wi-fi signal from the house. So I walked back. Once at home I had to re-boot my phone again in order to make the call. My first attempt went to voice-mail. I was not leaving a message. 
I called again after changing out of the work clothes. 
The phone was answered by the chipmunk.

"Bedhead Hills Office of Gravel and Thoroughfares, Chipmunk speaking," she said, very high and very fast.
"Oh, hello," I said, with excitement. "Hi, yes, ok, I live in Bedhead Hills, and someone dumped like a mattress on our road. 
"Oh, I see," the chipmunk said, serious but with real feeling. "Where is it?" 
I described its location.

The chipmunk asked how big it was. 
I said it was similar to a full-sized mattress, adding, "It's not so heavy a 5'5" woman who's 53, but pretty strong because she does Pilates could lift it."
The chipmunk thought this was hilarious. 


What I didn't see: I went up to my sewing room, where I am working on a new quilt. I am listening to an audiobook, "The Feminine Mystique," by Betty Friedan, so I didn't hear when the truck came to take the mattress away. 

Monday, September 5, 2016

I went for a walk

What I saw: the woods of the Kitchawan Preserve, Ossining, New York

What I wore: tall black custom Vogel field boots, Prince of Wales spurs, light brown Pikeur full-seat breeches, lilac 3/4-sleeve L.L.Bean polo shirt, Charles Owen Ayr8 helmet, prescription sunglasses, black SSG® Soft Touch™ Riding Gloves. 

What I did beforehand: overslept



Who went with me: Remonta Hado, aged 15, also sometimes known as Hado or Brown or, even, Big Brown.

How I got here: a set of random, impulsive decisions that might be impossible to replicate.

Why I went for a walk: we have been working very hard and needed a break. It was a perfectly clear, bright, dry sunny day.

Where I sat: Devouxcoux mono-flap dressage saddle.

Things that were sad: you, my readers, won’t look at my last blog post

Things that were funny: there are signs posted in this park stating that dogs must be on leash, and also further stipulating that dogs must be on a leash up to six feet long. I do occasionally see people walking a dog on a leash here, but almost always see people with their dogs off leash. Walking a dog off-leash is a great pleasure, of course, for both the dog, that gets to explore its freedom, and the walker, who walks and indulges in the sight of their dog moving at liberty. But it all depends on an owner's ability to call the loose dog and leash it up again. I saw three dogs on this walk. The first was a black lab mix named Lola. Lola’s owners shouted “come” about eleven or twelve or eighty-one times before it occurred to them to turn around and walk the other way. Their apology was, “Oh, she’s never seen a horse before."

Things that were not funny: the next dogs I saw were a pair of merle Australian shepherds. Their owners were calling shrilly but fruitlessly, as well, perhaps unaware of the deer their dogs were presumably pursuing, when suddenly the dogs exploded from the dense brush, charged me and my quiet, motionless horse who retained all of his composure while the marauding, barking fluff-balls were re-captured. These owners shouted at me accusingly about how they hadn't any place to move off the trail (a statement so incomprehensible I am still mulling it over, days later), and flexed their muscles dragging off the canine ruffians by the neck and making no apology at all as we paraded sedately past them. 


What it is: the Kitchawan Preserve is a 208-acre natural area bordered by New York City reservoirs. It features reasonably well-maintained, wooded trails and a few open fields. It is lovely in all four seasons, though it can be very muddy after strong rains, and is heavily used by dog-walkers, particularly on weekends in fine weather. It was once a research facility of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. There are two horse farms abutting the preserve, though I rarely see other riders in the woods. 

Who should see it: didn’t Thoreau say, “Not till we are lost in the woods on horseback, out of the earshot of people and their dogs, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations?” 


What I saw on the way home: when we emerged from the woods and stepped back onto the mowed, grassy paths of the farm where Hado lives, we were again among Hado’s folk, the herd. Horses stood in paddocks alone and in pairs, heads bowed in worship of one of their gods, the late summer grass, and another of their gods, the sunshine.  Hado glanced in the direction of two of his equine brethren and compelled them to dance in his direction. He celebrated their greeting with a sequence of bounces, tossing his head and shoulders and laughing in his throaty bass-baritone. I gave him a kick, and directed him back to the barn.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

I saw "Marie and Rosetta"


What I saw: Marie and Rosetta" at the Linda Gross Theater of the Atlantic Theater Company, off-Broadway in Chelsea at 336 West 20th Street in New York City.

What I wore: striped Fa├žonnable linen  blouse that I bought on sale at Nordstrom in Seattle at least ten years ago, white rag & bone jeans that now have a six inch long, faint brown stain on the right thigh, that new white belt I had made for horse showing, the new glasses that make me look so much like my mother people make fun of me for it, gray Puma sneakers, old tan Coach purse, mascara.


What I did beforehand: tapas, subway ride downtown E to 23rd Street, cappuccino at Grumpy's.


Who went with me: a grumpy Bacon Provider.

How I got tickets: I subscribed to the Atlantic Theater Company's new season of shows online.

Why I saw this show: I saw their productions of "Hold On to Me Darling" and "The Purple lights of Joppa Illinois" and both were excellent.



Where I sat: row E seat 8 




Things that were sad: some of you may not have ever heard of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and you should have. 

Things that were funny: a lot of things made me laugh.

Things that were not funny: sometimes I felt like I was the only person laughing.

What it is: an excellent musical, featuring the songs and life story of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, performed without intermission, lasting 90 minutes. 

Who should see it: lovers of gospel music, fans of the blues, students of American popular song, supporters of Black Lives Matter, people who liked "Hamilton," children of mothers, feminists, squirrels, women.

What I saw on the way home: we tried to catch an uptown C or E train at 23rd Street, but they weren't running. A pair of signs, one handwritten and the other printed held the confusing news that we should cross the street and take a downtown train to 14th Street and then catch an uptown A, which was running express to 42nd. We instead hailed a dented cab on 8th Avenue. Our manically cheerful driver kept us sitting in stunned and fearful silence as we bucketed up the 22 blocks, snaking westward on West 29th at alarming speed. 

To get back to Bedford Hills, we fetched the car from the garage at the apartment we moved out of this week, an event marking the end of another sad, weird chapter in our bad New York adventure. But anyway we have the garage spot for maybe three more days at the point so we used it. Up the Saw Mill Parkway, we listened to some of Tim O'Brien's Vietnam War memoir, "If I Die in a Combat Zone," which is peppy and irreverent and darkly funny, and when we got home and into bed we had no choice but to go online and read about Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Both the Bacon Provider and I stayed up way, way past our bedtime, until two or two-thirty, looking at YouTube videos of her, singing and playing guitar in her high heels and church lady dresses. My, oh, my.