Monday, January 30, 2017

I saw “The Beauty Queen of Leenane"

What I saw: "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" at BAM on Fulton Street in Brooklyn, a venue that appears to be a crumbling relic but it turns out that's ok because it's a decorative choice.

Used to be called the Triboro Bridge
What I did beforehand: drove down from Bedhead Hills, ate at a Korean brasserie, because this was Brooklyn. Probably had too much rice wine, or dry riesling, or maybe it was whatever they brought us after dinner because they thought it was the Graduate’s birthday, even though the only reason he got a present from me was this wooden mallet had been backordered at Xmas.

Not my cocktail, tho

What I wore: gold hoop earrings from the 80s, black Doc Marten shoes from the 90s, James jeans, black tissue weight Proenza Schoule dotted tee, my mother's bracelet, black summer-weight Eileen Fisher cardigan because climate change is real, a Marimekko scarf because Finland has a representative democracy with principles of parliamentarism, and the scowl of crushing despair that we fucking don't. 

Just in case you think I kid

Who went with me: the Bacon Provider

How I got tickets: online, in mid-December, when people were still able to pretend that maybe everything was gonna be ok somehow.

Why I saw this show: this ad. Their expressions. 

Where I sat: Row G, Seat 2, next to a couple that was arguing.

Things that were sad: the play, like all plays (according to my cousin) was about loneliness. Also, just how crazy we are just under the surface.

I'd rather get a picture
of someone getting a picture

Things that were funny: quite a bit of funny business, including quips and gestures. Really, it was a master class in actors making exquisite choices for their physical expression. Surprises, weirdness, simultaneously natural and unnatural.  

Theater may not be as decrepit as it appears
Things that were not funny: in this play, Chekhov’s gun is portrayed by a fire poker. 

Something I ate: I think it was halibut. Or maybe flounder. One of those. It was white. Did I mention they brought these little shots at the end of dinner, because they thought it was the Graduate’s birthday? Also, carmel-popcorn on ice cream, which I have to now learn to make.
When you're this Brooklyn,
it's always your birthday

What it is: a disturbing, much-celebrated play, from the mid-90s. Set in the gritty sort-of-now-ish Ireland where everyone is poor and almost unintelligible to an American audience, and where everyone is fecking nuts. 

Who should see it: theater lovers seeking the sort of two hour and fifteen minute escape that will not restore their faith in humanity in any way

Not fighting

What I saw on the way home: one couple that wasn’t fighting, and one that was.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

I went to the Women’s March on New York City

What I did: the Women’s March on New York City on Saturday, January 21, 2017 

What I did beforehand: got a restless night’s sleep, waking early. Decided that if I wasn’t going to march today, I was never going to march for anything. Walked and fed the dogs. Charged a camera battery. Ate breakfast. Wondered what kind of bra you wear to a protest march. Made a pussy hat, improvising without a pattern from the polar fleece I had on hand, with cat ears that turned out too pointy and looked like devil’s horns.  Decided the hat was pretty much perfect that way. Told my husband I was going and rushed off to catch a train.

We sat together on the train. 
What I wore: favorite jeans, Sweaty Betty striped exercise top, homemade orange hat, black parka, Smartwool hiking socks, Asolo hiking boots that I had re-soled last year and I wear to walk my dogs every day (with very old custom orthotics, because this old lady has bad feet). 

Who went with me: my friend Bill from the Internet met me under the clock at Grand Central. There were a billion, jillion people in Grand Central when my train got in. 

How I got tickets: I didn’t need tickets to this protest march, just good walking shoes, a day off, and the ability and will to stand up for what I believe in. 

Why I saw this show: because our latest presidential election resulted in a wholly unqualified, unsuitable, woman-hating, race-baiting, vindictive, impulsive, lying monster assuming power, and I and a whole lot of other people are ready to do something about it. 

Where I sat: on the train. At a march you have to rise and walk.

Things that were sad: this is only the beginning. We are going to have a lot more work to do, if he doesn’t kill us all first.

Things that were funny: lots of signs.

Things that were not funny: the feeling, as we stood on 2nd Avenue waiting for the march to start, that there was a river of human beings stretching up the street as far as I could see in either direction, and that with the people in front of me and behind me and next to me on both sides there was no way for me to remove myself from the situation speedily if I wanted to. When I moved to New York in 2011, I might not have been able to keep my shit together in such a crowd.

Something I ate: a stale untoasted bagel from Grand Central Market, because if I would have asked for it toasted I would have missed my train home.

What it is: old women, weirdos, young women, union reps, young men, hipsters, young women, little kids, babies, middle-aged white people, posers, young people of color, people in professional attire, people covered in social justice slogans, old men, they all showed up in NYC united against our hateful new president and what he represents. The mood was defiant, but not quite angry. 

Who should see it: anybody who thinks that this isn’t normal.

What I saw on the way home: the train home was almost as full as the one there, where it had been standing room only. It’s going to be such a long four years.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

I stayed at the Plaza Hotel

What I did: spent a Thursday night in the Tower Suite at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. 

View of 58th St. from our 18th floor room

What I did beforehand: rode the train into Grand Central Terminal thinking about , walked up 5th Avenue penned in by block after block of police barricades.

What I wore: James jeans, black suede Puma sneakers

The Tower Suite has a round, king-sized bed

Who went with me: my husband, the Bacon Provider

How I made the reservation: online (directly with the hotel), about a week ago

The tower suite has a domed ceiling 
Why I stayed there: I was planning a single night in the city, starting with the tickets I had just booked to see "Made in China," a funny and raunchy puppet musical with a human rights message at the 59 East 59th Street Theater. I looked at a map online, and compared prices and availability of a couple of high-end hotels nearby, including  the Pierre and the Four Seasons. The thing is, though, that the book Eloise was one of my favorites as a child, and all I had to do was think about Eloise pouring water down the mail chute or feeding her mother's attorney rubber candy, and the decision was easy. 

The best lobster roll I've ever had

Where I sat: I had a classic champagne cocktail and a snack in the Champagne Bar, which has chairs so comfy I want to get some like them for my new dining room when the big, bad upcoming remodel is done.

Things that were sad: we got back from dinner too late to have a drink in the Rose Club.

Things that were funny/not funny: we did manage to sneak in a scotch in the Palm Court before last call, and were overheard by the bartender as I compared the unpresident-elect to both Hitler and Stalin.

Something I ate: a lobster roll in the Champagne Bar, and breakfast in the Palm Court.

What it is: over 100 years old, but meticulously remodeled in a way that maintains its grand style, the Plaza Hotel is a beautiful, sumptuous throwback to a past New York when rich people were expected to have exemplary manners.

Our bathroom had a heated floor

Who should see it: aesthetes, connoisseurs of historic hotels, parquet aficionados, high-end Victorian cos-players, architecture buffs, Eloise enthusiasts, gold-trim fanciers, luxury freaks, marble junkies, suckers for an exquisite attention to detail, and money-spending fools.

The marble mosaic elevator floors

What I saw on the way home: thousands of NYPD assembling on 5th Avenue for the funeral of Officer Steven McDonald, a man who believed in forgiveness.  

Friday, January 13, 2017

I saw “Made in China”

What I saw: "Made in China," a puppet musical for adults, at the 59 East 59th Street Theater, way off-Broadway, in New York City.

What I did beforehand: riding lesson. Shower. Frenzied packing. Brief dog walk. Train ride, where I had a haunting thought as we pulled out of the stop at White Plains, and chanted silently to myself, “we should have done more to stop him,” the whole way to Harlem. Walked up 5th Avenue, behind block after block of police barricades, as if I needed more of a reminder of the disaster we didn't prevent. 

What I wore: Fluevog boots, James jeans, two black tops I bought at a boutique in TriBeCa and cut the tags out of, vintage earrings, scarf the Bacon Provider bought me from India, Eileen Fisher summer weight cardigan because it was unseasonably warm, black parka just in case.

Who went with me: the Bacon Provider.

How I got tickets: I got two of the last seats available about a week ago, online. 

Why I saw this show: a positive review in the New York Times.

Where I sat: Row B, seat 13, on the end, behind my husband. Next to me was a stylish young woman wearing shoes I envied and a menswear hat; she was telling her companion about this powerful and sexually voracious woman at work who sexually harasses everyone, young men and women alike. 

Things that were sad: another play about lonely people.

Things that were funny: naked puppets, cussing puppets, wrestling puppets, puppets on (and in) the toilet, a puppet dog humping another dog, a puppet dog with a real retractible red rocket, puppets having sex, a song about impulse shopping, another song featuring a familiar pussy-grabber’s stump-speech snippets about China, and my laughter making the woman in the hat next to me laugh even louder than I was. 

Also, when we got a beer at the bar before the show, I offered the bartender a pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution, because I carry a stack of them in my purse. "Oh, yeah, I might need that," he said. 
I got mine from the ACLU.

Things that were not funny: references to human rights abuses and our reliance on cheaply made Chinese goods.

Something I ate: a whole roasted branzino at the nearby Rotisserie Georgette, where four other tables were celebrating birthdays.

What it is: a funny and weirdly fantastic musical about loneliness, human rights, consumerism, and getting along with our neighbors. lasting about an hour and a half, with no intermission.

Who should see it: people who watch TV naked, fans of Avenue Q, kung fu film buffs, devotees of dragon dancers, toilet humor fanciers, Trump satire freaks, human rights experts, disciples of anti-consumerism.

What I saw on the way home: a Windows Media error message on a number of large monitors in a shop window on 5th Avenue, which made my husband laugh.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

I saw “Hidden Figures”

Here is a picture of my dogs sleeping.

What I saw: “Hidden Figures,” a movie, at a local theater in Mt. K.

What I did beforehand: riding lesson. Bacon and eggs. Dog walk. Watched my husband polish his shoes. Kissed the Bacon Provider goodbye (again). Sewing. Bought a ticket online so I wouldn’t be too lazy to go.

What I wore: very dirty jeans. Snow boots. Two coats. Mittens and scarf.

Who went with me: about 50 white people and 2 African Americans.

How I got tickets: online, a few hours before.

Why I saw this show: because my friend H. said to.

Where I sat: towards the front, right behind the only people of color.

Things that were sad: I sometimes remember not to be a completely disagreeable person. But generally speaking if you want me to stay away from a movie, tell me it’s inspiring. I believe this is not a movie about exemplary women doing exceptional things. I believe this is a movie about black women saving everyone's asses and never getting credit.

Things that were not funny: did the women whose careers at NASA were dramatized in this film start a new, great tradition of American female engineers and mathematicians? No. No, through no fault of their own, they did not. Women were still underrepresented in the sciences when I tried to get a PhD in math in the mid 1980s, when I couldn't get a female professor as a mentor because there weren't any. Yes, we have female astronauts now (since about 1978), and people of color do become engineers, but it didn't stop one of my master's examination board from (successfully) getting me to crack  during my orals, and it didn't dissaude the President of Harvard from saying publicly that under-representation of female scientists at elite universities may stem in part from “innate" differences between men and women (and not only did he never have to take it back, his career continued to flourish). Things are better, but they aren't good.

Things that were funny: straight talk about Jim Crow laws.

Something I ate: popcorn.

What it is: a likable story about NASA in the 1960s, racism, the failures of white feminists, misogyny, and how technology destroys middle class jobs.

Who should see it: people who need to forget about a real or imagined episode involving urine, Russian women, the president-elect, and a hotel room; space buffs, math nerds, engineering enthusiasts, middle school social studies teachers, chalkboard fanciers, arithmetic fanatics, movie fiends, car-stuck girl junkies, NASA nuts, aficionados of scenes of women running in high heels. 

What I saw on the way home: I stopped for pho and bubble tea to take home to 19. There was a football game on the TV. A guy was sitting with his dad, their table crowded with plates, introducing him to Vietnamese food. He asked the waiter for the yellow sauce. It took the guy behind the counter a couple of tries before he found the yellow sauce the guy wanted. “What’s it called?” he asked. “So I know next time.”

“Fish sauce,” was the answer.