Saturday, February 18, 2017

I saw “Man of Good Hope”


What I saw: “Man of Good Hope” at the BAM Opera House in Brooklyn, NY

"I think this is an opera house.
See how it says 'opera?'"
What I did beforehand: drove to Brooklyn, being re-routed twice, and arriving to discover that the parking garage described on the website did not exist (and there was a coupon you had to print out to use it). Also, there was a Rangers game at the Barclay Center, so the streets of downtown Brooklyn were full of sober, pre-game hockey fans.

What I wore: Chinese-made Australian boots, favorite jeans, Tanner indigo belt, feelings sweater, earrings that kept trying to fall out.


Who went with me: my dear friend W., who was born in Zambia.

How I got tickets: online, when I realized I would not, as promised, be able to take her to the recent revival of “Master Harold and the Boys” because those tickets were $30 and they sold like hotcakes.

Why I saw this show: I am a sucker for a story about refugees.

Where I sat: Mezzanine Row A, seat 18


Things that were sad: stories about refugees are always filled with death and fear and loss and terrible set-backs.


Things that were funny/not funny: the part about the little boy living on the streets of Nairobi who went from one house to the next and every night had a dinner with a different family, and the song about how America is safe, how there are no guns here, how everyone drives big trucks and everyone is rich.

Something I ate: hummus and pita chips, standing in the lobby, while trying to balance a beer in my other hand. 


What it is: a profoundly moving, engrossing, and lively production, featuring African music and dance and a refugee story that is both utterly like and unlike any others. 


Who should see it: people who, like me, believe that all shows should have live music; people who, like me, believe that if you are going to have live music you must place the musicians where the audience can see them; people who, like me, who are working very hard right now to remember what good things America is supposed to represent to people in the rest of the world; people who, like me, know and love several immigrants.


What I saw at home, two days later: W. texted me that she was still thinking about it. 
I am, too.

Friday, February 17, 2017

I saw "Tell Hector I Miss Him"


What I saw: "Tell Hector I Miss Him" a play at the Atlantic Theater Company in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan



What I did beforehand: riding lesson where my instructor reminded me about the red failure signals I saw on the equine simulator, dropped the Bacon Provider's shirts at the cleaners, bought bagels, went home, showered, got dressed, walked my dogs until they pooped and then took them straight home again, changed shoes, told 19 I was leaving. Realized I hadn't checked the train schedule. Took off my shoes again. Set an alarm so I wouldn't be late. Sat down and posted a blog post


Drove to train station listening to the random song Apple Music picked for me, which was Simon & Garfunkle's "The Only Living Boy in New York," which I tried to sing along to but kind of sucked at. Got a call from one of the organizers of the auction we attended on Sunday about the week in a Miami condo I bid on and won. Rode the train. 


Got out at Grand Central. Took the shuttle to Times Square where I planned to take the 1. In the middle of the crowded station there were two, slim bespectacled guys with guitars and stylish, short-brimmed straw hats setting up. They had an amp. Their expressions were attentive, like they were waiting for something. Then they began to play. I paused; subway musicians are one of the things I actually like about NYC. A white guy in a knitted balaclava said something to me. I couldn't hear him. I leaned in.

"It's fake," he said, shouting over the Spanish-inflected music. "I saw them setting up. They're not really playing. The amp is connected to an iPod under that magazine, on top."

I did not want to yell. I simply touched his arm in an effort to express my understanding and left him. As I descended the stairs to the platform I could still hear him, shouting at the musicians.

This is what's happening now: angry white guys are showing up and shouting that what's happening is fake.

What I wore: new black James cords, Chinese-made Australian boots, gray Ibex wool top, black North Face parka, scarf a friend brought me from Scotland, dangly silver earrings, high ponytail 

Who went with me: my niece, A., who came in to the city from Connecticut. 

How I got tickets: many months ago, I booked tickets to this show but changes of plans made it necessary to trade them. As a subscriber to this theater, I have the ability to change what are usually non-refundable tickets. 

Why I saw this show: subscribed to the season. 


Where I sat: Row F, seat 107. Afterwards, my niece told me that this woman in the row in front of us plays the mother of one of the actors on "Orange is the New Black." Which is confusing because she's not actually her mom, but if she were she'd totally come to the play, and be all proud, because that's what moms do. This would be a time she could say, "I'm not her mom, but I play her on TV."

Things that were sad: this play is about some terribly lonely people.

Things that were funny: eager adulterers, an eager teen, an eager young lesbian, eager drug abuse. 

Things that were not funny: I don't understand enough Spanish to understand more than the most fundamental cuss words. 

Something I ate: a burger and fries at the Tipsy Parson, on 9th Avenue a few blocks other of the theater.

With a delicious Other Half All-Citra IPA

What it is: a fine play on a small stage with a big cast of talented actors.

Who should see it: fans of “Orange is the New Black,” people who know all the Puerto Rican cuss words, people who want to know all the Puerto Rican cuss words.

What I saw on the way home: I got to my train before the doors opened, but once the doors opened I got on board and walked past the seats facing the right way and for whatever reason sat down facing the wrong way. But I didn’t even find this out until the train started moving and most of the seats had someone sitting there so I had to choose between sitting down with someone who'd be getting up before me or might try to talk to me about fake news or something, or staying put in my own row. 


The other error I made was sitting too close to the bathroom. Really, you just don’t even want to sit in the car with the bathroom. I should have moved. 

But I didn't move. I didn't move because I would have had to choose between the other tired people, and most of them were men, and you know that one guy? He is out there. That one guy who thinks that because you've sat down next to him, you've chosen him. He's won you over. It's like you've accepted a drink from him at the bar, and now he's going to talk to you. You're going to get a piece of his mind. Or, worse. No. I did not want to sit accidentally with that one guy. I didn't move. It was too late at night to move. Without a better alternative, the seat by the bathroom was better than joining that one guy with the wrong ideas.

There was a parade of men using the bathroom, which was worth keeping an eye on in a furtive way. No eye-contact.  Then some guy went in and was in there for a long time. Things quieted down. I forgot about the bathroom. I got absorbed in the pleasures offered by my iPhone  But then there was the loud retching. Prolonged retching. Repeated retching. People went and got a conductor who was like, oh, yeah, there’s a guy in there barfing. Like that was the most normal thing that happens. A shaved-head guy in a suede jacket near me couldn’t take it anymore and moved to another car. Then suddenly the bathroom door opened and the barfing guy came out, sat down, and passed out. I could see his name and picture on his work ID, still clipped to his belt loop. Things got quiet again. 

As we neared White Plains the barfer's phone alarm went off. A tall guy in a serious suit and overcoat stepped up to wake him. The barfer lurched to the door and disappeared into the winter night of White Plains. 

As the train pulled away from the station, a trickle of water rolled down the aisle. Soon the trickle became a long puddle. A new guy, with dark, loose curls framing his giant, babyish face came to use the bathroom. He opened the door and loudly announced his joyous complaint to no one and everyone, “Someone’s deliberately clogged the sink!!”


I lifted my feet from the floor of the train car, but I still did not move. I can’t say why.
As we neared my stop, I tip-toed in my manure-proof, Chinese-made Australian paddock boots to the other end of the car. A tired man in an ironic working man's knit cap and leather dress shoes stood at the edge of the puddle. I encouraged him to step back. Without acknowledging me, he was able to exit in two great long strides. I had to wade through it. 

It was real.




Thursday, February 16, 2017

I left the cat in charge


What I did: like you know, last year, a barn friend, S., invited me to join her on this trip to Florida to watch the winter circuit horse show, shop, and do sunshine; I was like, "Pick me," but then couldn’t get shit organized at home. I have pets and sourdough to feed, don’t you know. This year, I said yes, and left the cat in charge.


What I did beforehand: you don’t have to leave written instructions for the cat. I figured the dogs would  let him know when they were hungry or needed to crap someplace other than the kitchen floor.

What I packed: sunscreen, gray jeans, white J. Crew linen swimsuit coverup, bathing suit, yoga clothes, three polo shirts, underwear and socks.

Something I packed and didn’t wear: a sun hat.

Something I ran out of: shirts.


Who went with me: S. and K. from the barn. S.’s friend D. joined us from Germany. 

How I got tickets: online, from JetBlue, at the end of November.


Why I saw this show: I think S. wanted us to be able to see the FEI  Grand Prix CDI 5* at the 2017 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, FL, which we saw, in addition to the Grand Prix freestyle competition. 


Where I sat: in the bleachers and in the VIP tent, because S. is well-connected through volunteer leadership work she does for the Jewish World Games. 


Where I stayed: at the Casa Passivo-Aggressivo, a bed and breakfast  in West Palm Beach which you should not confuse with the nearby Passivo-Aggressivo Bed and Breakfast, just a couple of blocks away. And don't mention the confusion to your hosts, because the rivalry is old and bitter.

We were told we couldn’t have breakfast, 
which was included with our rooms, 
because we didn’t tell them the night 
before what time we wanted it. 

Things that were not funny: hearing S. explain that the Jewish World Games have been around since the 1930s and how Jews might want their own international sports competition, and, of course, why. She’s quite upbeat and polite. Then there was like this famous trainer who I met at a barn visit on S.’s World Jewish Games business, who was sure we’d met.


Things that were interesting: S.’s friend D. whispered to me all about what to look for in a correctly ridden and trained Grand Prix horse and told me that she thinks this one famous U.S. Olympic Dressage rider SP is an artist; he took third in both classes we saw him compete in.

Things that were sort of funny: K.’s connections got us seats at a super cool fundraiser where we were assigned to sit at SP’s table. I could only imagine myself saying something I would regret, so I didn’t have the courage to talk to him, but S. did. He was very nice, and so was his staff who also sat at our table.


Things that were not actually funny: a second snowstorm rolled into New York while we were all in Florida and our flight back on Sunday was cancelled. JetBlue sent us emails saying they’d re-book us, but we didn’t trust them to get us home in time for our obligations so we all scrambled to get back on the same flight only on Monday. By the time we heard from JetBlue, they'd booked us to leave several days later.

That thing where you go for a goofy selfie
and your friend doesn't 
Things that were cool:  S. wanted a ride to the show grounds on a golf cart because she wanted to experience everything, and we got it on the bonus day. The benefit show featured a group that works horses at liberty, up to eight at a time. It was beautiful and exciting and I could hear horse people at other tables comparing the performer’s control over her herd to their own horses. 


Something I ate: there were these short-rib empanadas being passed by a woman carrying a tray that we had to chase around the room.

Something I didn't eat: breakfast at our B&B.

Casa Passivo-Aggressivo hospitality 
included notes that appeared on the doors. 

Who should see it: fans of dressage. 

What I saw on the way home: the Atlantic Ocean, which is acidifying as a result of global warming. The last half hour of the flight was super bumpy because of a windstorm, but the flight attendant said they knew what they were doing so I just tried to close my eyes and deal with it. A woman in the row ahead of me whooped and commented about the bigger bumps. I wanted her to shut up. At least the kitchen floor was clean when I got home.



Wednesday, February 15, 2017

I rode the Robo-Pony



What I did: rode the Robo-Pony (not its trademarked name), a mechanical horse with computerized controls and feedback, available for one-on-one lessons with a professional instructor. 


Who went with me: S. and K., my barn friends. We took turns. 

What I did beforehand: watched the FEI Grand Prix CDI 5* at the AGDF Wellington, Florida 

What I wore: new running bra and breeches, purchased for the experience.  


How I got tickets: we just, like, you know, walked up to this vendor’s tent, and saw a woman having a lesson on the Robo-Pony, stuck our heads in and started asking questions.

Why I tried it: it looked like fun.

Where I sat: slightly left, as I do, according to the sensors, and spent at least five minutes getting used to the terribly uneven feeling of sitting symmetrically in the saddle.  

Things that were sad: someone had yanked the left rein and broken the sensor, so the Robo-Pony was completely dull on the left side of its mouth. Also, I forget its name. Also, we had to pay the full amount, even though the Robo-Pony was kind of busted.


Things that were funny: I clucked at the Robo-Pony to get it to go. K. patted it. 

Things that were not funny: we were not supposed to kick the Robo-Pony to make it go. K. struggled because her long legs were below the sensors on its sides. Both S. and I kicked the Robo-Pony to make it go.

Something I bought: new Pikeur breeches in a lovely shade of French blue

What it is: an opportunity to ride an equine simulator and see on seven sensor screens some feedback about your position when riding, but probably not a substitute for real riding. The Robo-Pony revealed many of my known positional flaws, including my tendency to drop contact with the bit when I ask the horse to go forward; dropping the reins made the Robo-Pony stretch out and down and the computer screens filled with red bars of failure signals. Of the three of us, I am the least experienced dressage rider, and probably the only one interested in trying it again. I thought it was fun.


Who should see it: bored and curious visitors to the 2017 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival 

What I saw after: 2016 Rio Olympic Games bronze medalist Laura Graves riding her 2002 Dutch Warmblood gelding Verdades, in the “Friday Night Stars” FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W, with the winning score of 80.728%.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

I burned the bread


What I did: soaked 125 grams of whole spelt grain in 125 ml of water for two hours; rinsed, aerated, and rested every 6 hours until it sprouted (about 18 hours); mixed it into a batch of sourdough bread dough, let it rest overnight in the refrigerator, got up in the morning and baked it, and burned both loaves.


What I did beforehand: took pictures of the cat 

What I wore: "MAYBE I LITERALLY CAN EVEN" t-shirt, pajama pants, Birkenstock clogs

Who went with me: the dogs


How I got distracted: looked at the news

Why I saw this show: you bake enough bread and the stuff you can buy will never be as good as what you can make.

Where I sat: just out of earshot of the oven timer.

Things that were sad: no bread for dinner; no bread to take to the barn.

Things that were funny: my brother suggested I cut off the crusts. What remained looked like a crouton the size of a large eggplant.

Things that were not funny: the burnt crust shattered when cut, and black crumbs large and small flew in several directions.

Something I ate: not this bread.



What it is: 200 grams home grown sourdough leaven, dissolved in 800 ml water, plus 200 g spelt flour and 800 g bread flour, plus 25 g fine sea salt in a almost-no-kneading technique. 

Who should see it: fans of rage cooking.

What I saw at the end:


Monday, February 13, 2017

spa days



What I did: spent a day at an upscale spa in an uncomfortably Trump-y part of Florida (Air Force One sat on the tarmac of the local airport while we were there, and can you believe that 45’s had it trimmed in gold leaf!? #FAKENEWS). And then, when our flight was cancelled by a snowstorm, we went back for a second day.


What I did beforehand: the heavenly theme of this spa requires that you have a near-death experience to visit. It’s ok, though, because as long as you exit through the gift shop you can resume your life. You’ll just be all refreshed and shit, and maybe have a fresh coat of turquoise toenail polish.


What I wore: a black lady’s bathing suit with a built-in bra and a shirred bodice that I bought from Nordstrom years ago when I was a loyal customer, long before the latest kerfuffle where people were all pissed that like Nordie was carrying the Pussy Grabber’s Major Love Interest’s clothing line and so I and a bunch of other pearl-clutching, freaked out  ninnies got all upset about the Dignity of the Office and cancelled our accounts with them via unnecessarily tart emails but then I guess like Nordie figured out that their customers don’t buy Ivanka’s crap anyway so now the Moneyed Liberal Ladies of America have released their collective grip on the pearls and are shopping at Nordie’s again. I mean, who can keep up with this shit? But also, the spa provided white robes to wear, and wear them we did.

It was fizzy. And pink.

Who went with me: my barn friends S. and K. our new German friend D., and S.’s old friend L. We were supposed to make this wish and put a floating candle in the little pool and stuff but like I threw my wish away on someone else the first day so it was a good thing we went back so I could make that wish just for me me me.

How I got there: the first day was planned, the second was on account of weather-related re-grouping.


Why I saw this show: I’ve been thinking about the Welcome to the Afterlife Teas my mother has been hosting with Oliver Sacks, and thought this might be where she sees Julia Child for planning meetings and then gets a facial and a manicure with her signature clear polish.


Where I sat: on a heated chaise made of tile, on a swing over a fountain, on a pile of green throw pillows, in the steam room, and on a pedicure throne.


Things that were sad: that it had to end.

Things that were funny: the Self-Centered Garden. Staff wearing fairy wings. 

Things that were not funny: there is no longer truth or fiction. There is just alternative facts. 


Something I ate: a lobster roll on the beach, with Due South Brewing Caramel Cream Ale 5%.

What it is: a deluxe resort and day spa called Eau Spa, in West Palm Beach. Right on the ocean, with several restaurants, and a pool, this hotel looks pretty luxurious (we didn’t see any guest rooms on our visit). I did see the gym facilities and take a yoga class by the beach, which was well-attended and skillfully led. I found it challenging to hear the instructor over the roar of the surf (this is actually praise and not criticism). The spa is a world into itself, with a women’s side and a men’s side (that one of my friends wandered into accidentally and was escorted out of). They have a full-service salon, hot tub, steam room, sauna, relaxation garden, and cupcakes.


Who should see it: babymooners, bachelorettes, reunion attendees, equestrians, and spa aficionados who expect the fullest of service experiences.

What I saw on the way home: one last look at the ocean.


Monday, February 6, 2017

I saw "Dear Evan Hansen"



What I saw: "Dear Evan Hansen," a new Broadway musical, at the Music Box Theater on West 45th near like, I dunno, 8th Ave.


What I did beforehand: saw this guy worshipping the clothes in a store, and then met up with my friend Bill from the Internet, and we had drinks. It was hard to feel like we weren't toasting the life of our dead friend, America. RIP, America. We knew you when.


What I wore: two black shirts with jeans, hiking boots, big parka, the earrings before I broke one.


Who went with me: white people.

How I got tickets: just a couple of days before, online, for about $400.


Why I saw this show: I wonder if the world is divided into the bullies and the bullied, with some overlap. 


Where I sat: Row H seat 106, between this guy whose plane from LAX was three hours late making him miss the opening song so he had to sneak in courtesy of an usher with a flashlight and slide past me with his butt in my face after the show had started and, oh, him, and a group of three empty seats on the other side of me that were sold when I checked online. 

Things that were sad: I cried all the mascara off my eyes in the first act.


Things that were funny: people checking their phones at intermission, during a play (partly) about the power of social media.


Things that were not funny: I took off my glasses at intermission (to look at my phone) and they fell off my head and I didn’t notice until the lights dimmed for the second act, so I had to sit there, not able to see perfectly, waiting for the end so I could turn on my flashlight and crawl around. I started looking as soon as people started clapping, but couldn’t find them, and as poeple left the theater a few of the people around me noticed I was looking and pitched in. The person to find them was a house manager. I thanked him, but it felt like it wasn’t enough. 

Something I ate: homemade chips at Joe Allen.

What it is: a fine, energetic musical about a lonely, anxious teen. With moments of great truth about trying not to suck as a parent and featuring a cast that seems to embody their roles, every one of them. Highly recommended. 

Who should see it: liars, teens, parents, people who cannot imagine that social media has a positive impact on the world. People who can't imagine what a middle class white kid in America might be anxious about. Fans of American musical theater. 



What I saw on the way home: too many ads, which is to say, nothing.