April 29, 2005
The relative merits of karaoke
I'm listening to the Killers. Last night, Stevie and Gabby sang "Mr. Brightside," harmonizing on the chorus. I wanted to hear the song again, but was surprised at the lack of harmony vocals; I miss them. And now I find I prefer their karaoke version to the actual version. I don't think I've ever felt that way about a karaoke version before . . .
Unleashing the inner rock star
After the party we went to Muse, a karaoke bar on 26th street. A few friends had already reserved a room and we squeezed into the narrow space. Stevie brought cupcakes. Gabby was already on the mike. She and Stevie were amazing, harmonizing on songs by everyone from Alicia Keyes to T'Pau. We were there for almost four hours. My throat hurts.
In the gift bag from the Tribeca All Access closing night party, sponsored by Playboy, we found: a postal tribute featuring six stamps issued from St. Vincent with a certificate of authenticity signed by Edward Beache, the General Manager of St. Vincent Philatelic Services, Ltd., and Christine Hefner, the Chairman & CEO of Playboy Enterprises; a red white and blue Playboy bunny lapel pin, made in China; a little black book, blank; a Playboy keychain featuring an African-American playmate tastefully masked by a bunny silhouette; a set of four metal coasters; a burlap bag by Carol's Daughter, featuring chocolate soap and dry skin cream.
The one thing everyone looked for first: a magazine.
April 28, 2005
Tuxedos and Applebees
Last night I ate at Applebees. We were at the Battery Park theaters and starving. It was the only restaurant open in the area (read: next to the theater). Cherry warned us that the portions would be big. We shared an appetizer and two rice bowls. Kit asked if it was ok if we just ordered rice meals. Cherry pointed to the four of us, all Chinese. "Look around, dude."
We talked about Cannes. Ramsey had said we need tuxes. Eric said that a friend of his told him you could get tuxes there for around $300.00. I don't know if I'll have time to shop for one. I'm looking online. This weekend it looks like it's time for a trip to Century 21.
April 26, 2005
Missing at Cannes? Yes!
Last week Kit called me from London. Her short film, missing
, was selected for Cannes. She asked me to come to the festival. I booked my ticket to France last night after the film's premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. Exciting!
April 25, 2005
Saturday night I made plans to meet Cherry and Kit for brunch. Kit said we should meet at ten. Cherry and I decided to meet at my house at ten. Sunday morning at ten, Cherry called. She was at home. She said she thought we had decided to call each other at ten. I called Kit. She was leaving the house. She said she'd be at my house soon. Cherry called from the train; it wasn't running. Kit told me she had to meet Ramsey at 11.30. Cherry needed to get a picture taken for her Tribeca Films badge. We didn't end up eating brunch.
After Kit left, I asked Lillian if she was interested in brunch. She said she was eating dumplings. I asked if she was still interested in visiting museums with me. She said yes, and we agreed to meet at the Japan Society at 1.30. I ate a bowl of granola.
At the Japan Society, it almost felt like paying admission to a store to shop without being able to buy anything. The exhibit was curated by Takashi Murakami, featuring otaku characters and other artifacts of Japanese pop culture. My favorite were the somewhat hazy portraits created by Hideaki Kawashima.
Afterwards we went to the Buttercup Bake shop for cupcakes. The cake was somewhat dry. I had wanted omisube, but oms/b was closed. We sat and ate and decided to go to the Met for the Max Ernst exhibit.
Entering the exhibit reveals a forest painting, set in a separate gallery. A window is cut out in the wall to allow the viewer access. It was a great use of the space. The exhibit was good, but after three or four rooms I was beginning to get Ernst fatigue. I sat and flipped through the exhibition catalogue. Lillian soon joined me and then we left. She called a friend who said he'd come pick us up. We went out to the front of the museum and had Mr. Softee and sat on the steps to wait. Soon, a green Toyota appeared across the street and we drove down to SoHo.
Cherry called to set up a meeting to talk about Kit's one sheet for missing
. I said I was almost home and they said they'd come over. They arrived soon after I got home and we took photos of each other for badges for Cannes. Then we went to Nyonya for dinner.
Cherry and Kit came back to my house afterwards to work on the one-sheet and practice pitching Kit's feature. We talked and worked and soon it was late and time to go home and to Kinkos and to bed.
I had planned to clean the apartment on Saturday. I managed to clean my room.
Lillian asked if I wanted to go to Costco. Wai was picking her up and driving her to Brooklyn. I thought about my clean room; I thought about a clean apartment. I decided to go to Costco.
The store was the typical large warehouse space, but I was unprepared for the escalator leading to a second floor with ceilings as tall as the first. We stayed pretty controlled until we reached the candy aisle. Then Lillian decided she needed butter crunch cookies. She bought a pack. Wai thought about the jumbo tub of jellybeans, then thought better of it. Our eyes grew large with the multi-jumbo packs of everything. I had no room in the apartment for anything; I was along for the ride.
After checking out, Lillian shared her cookies. She said now we were friends because she gave us all cookies. We each had two. It was two too many.
Wai drove us to Smith Street and we explored some of its shops before deciding to snack at Banania Cafe. Lillian ordered the steak sandwich, Wai the Cuban sandwich. I ordered the pounded chicken with mango salsa. Lillian's sandwich was by far the best. We shared a pitcher of sangria, and finished the meal with tres leches. I couldn't have been happier.
After dinner I took the subway home. They were playing poker in Brooklyn, but I had to get back to meet Cherry and Kit. By the time I got home, Cherry had returned to Brooklyn; neither of us had heard from Kit. Kit called around eight. It had taken her 18 hours to fly from London to New York. She fly by way of Cincinnati. There were delays everywhere. She was waiting for the shuttle to New York. She was exhausted. She said she was going to her hotel and to bed. I bid her good night and settled in for a night at home. Outside, it started to rain heavily.
Mimi had called earlier to invite me to a movie and asked where I was. I told her I had been in Brooklyn. She said she didn't realize that I was having an outer-borough day. I told her I'd been having a lot of outer-borough days.
April 24, 2005
Meeting Misai part two
Friday night, I met Misai and Kumiko for dinner. We met on the corner of Lafayette and Spring. I had tried to describe the location of the restaurant, but then decided to just meet them at the subway to walk over together. We went to Petrosino, on the corner of Houston and Norfolk. When making reservations I thought it was a different restaurant. We were standing outside and I called to ask where they were, before I realized I was thinking of a different restaurant. The food was ok; the wine was very good.
We talked about their past few days. They had seen the Lion King and gone to the Statue of Liberty. Misai bought another pair of shoes. She was wearing one pair she had just bought. She said it was difficult to find shoes that fit her in Japan. She also bought a pair for her sister, who she said was as tall as I was. She also gave me her portfolio and asked me to show it around. She's a fashion designer looking for an agent or promoter in the city. I told her I'd ask around, but that I was not so well connected in the world of fashion.
Afterwards we went to Mannahatta. I chose the place for its proximity to CBGB. Kumiko had worn a CBGB T-shirt when we met, and I wanted to show her the actual club. At Mannahatta, Misai asked me where the older people partied. She thought the crowd was somewhat young. It wasn't until I realized that her view of New York comes from Sex and the City that I understood what she meant, but not having watched the show, I didn't know where they filmed.
When we arrived, salsa music was playing and I danced with Misai. While she knew the basic steps, when I attempted a cross body lead into a open turn, she faltered, but laughed each time I tried it. Then the music turned more hip hop and she gave me her passport and purse to hold onto while we danced.
At one it was time to go. Their flight was at seven in the morning and they were planning on leaving the hotel at five. We said goodbyes on the corner, took some pictures. I put them in a cab and started walking home when I realized I still had Misai's passport. I flagged a cab and headed up to their hotel.
Passing 50th Street on 3rd Avenue, cars swerved around a man pissing in the middle of the street. The cab driver looked back and said, "Only in New York. It takes a lot of beer to get someone to piss in the middle of the street. Though I don't think I could ever drink enough to do it."
At the hotel I took the elevator up to their room and knocked on the door. Misai looked surprised to see me and even more so when I returned her I.D. She screamed and thanked me. She told me to meet her in the lobby for a drink, but by the time we entered the small bar it was closing. The owner said they were closing early due to Passover. For the past two hours they had only had one party of six and it wasn't worth staying open. He suggested a few bars down the street.
By then it was late. Misai decided it was too cold to go out. She decided she should try to get some sleep. Or she was going to write in her journal. We said our goodbyes again, waving to each other before she walked to the elevator and I took the stairs out into the street.
April 22, 2005
I had lunch with Brian. Even sitting down I feel like he was a foot taller than me.
April 21, 2005
A year ago I met Yukari. She had left a message on my photoblog after an exchange of email, we started chatting over im (she lives in Kyoto where she runs a hostel owned by her family). A few weeks ago, she told me that her sister was coming to New York and asked if I could show her around. I said yes. Last night I met Misai and her friend for the first time.
We met at Markt, a Belgian brasserie in the meatpacking district. The night was warm; the windows were thrown open. Our waitress had to keep returning to take our orders as we navigated the menus. We started with beers I've never heard of and a selection of oysters. Misai ordered a tuna tartare to share. Her friend had the saumon au fenouil, a grilled salmon with her roasted fennel and plum tomatoes. She had the potage de fruits de mer markt, a sampling of seafood and shellfish stewed with vegetables in a tomato saffron broth. I had the thon grilled, et confit de legumes, which consisted of ahi tuna with tapenade, steamed potatoes, and provencale vegetables. The tuna was fresh, and Misai gave her approval.
After dinner we shared a lemon tart served with a side of raspberry beer sorbet. Misai ordered another glass of beer, choosing the beer I had chosen after sampling all the glasses at the table. We talked about Japan and our past travels. She is in town to try to find a sponsor for her fashion line, and we talked about her studies in Italy.
For drinks, we went to APT. The wind had picked up, blowing sand all around us. We found the nondescript doorway and entered the bar. Misai laughed and said that had we not known, we never would have found it. I pointed out that the two large bouncers outside made it a little more obvious. We sat by the bed and ordered drinks. I ordered a Sapporo, and when the can came, they both remarked on how different it was from the cans in Japan. Misai said she was going to keep it.
We listened to the music and watched as the room filled. We talked about relationships and the relative height of her siblings. She said that Yukari was very tall. I told her she was tall. She said, yes, in Japan she is especially tall. She said that the bar was especially large, which surprised me. She said that in Kyoto all the bars are very small, and that when guests of their hostel ask for bars to hang out in, she is hard pressed to recommend one that can accomodate large groups. She asked when I was next to come to Japan. I told her I didn't know. Although the wheels in my head are spinning with ideas for travels next year.
At midnight, we left the bar. Misai washed out the can in the bathroom on our way out. I found them a cab. She asked me what I was doing Friday and we made plans to meet up. She wants to go dancing, but I'm not sure where to take them. The air was thick with the smell of rain, and as I walked home a light rain came and went.
April 20, 2005
Look at my friend Robin Williams!
On Saturday I went to the new Rose Theater to see the Trisha Brown Dance Company. I was early and so I sat outside the Time Warner Building, watching the people go by. At one point I heard a man shouting to his wife. "Look at me!" he said. "I'm walking next to my friend Robin Williams." I looked over and indeed he was walking next to Robin Williams. Williams had a nervous smile plastered on his face. He walked as if he was nervous about making the wrong step. When the man reached his wife, he stopped to point out again that he had been walking next to Robin Williams. Williams kept walking.
I told this story to Tulip. She asked if the man was a tourist. "He must be a tourist," she said.
April 19, 2005
Free cone day!
Today's Ben and Jerry's free cone day. I had a Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz Buzz. If this were the same day in 2004, I'd be leaving for Beirut this evening.
April 17, 2005
Heather told me last week about Wave Hill, a former country home built in 1843 by jurist William Lewis Morris. It is now a public garden and cultural center. I had said I was looking for places to escape the city. I had told her about my dissapointing experience at the Environmental Center and she suggested these gardens in the Bronx.
I didn't leave the house until the afternoon. I took the train to 207th street and then switched to the bus. We drove under the elevated 1/9 trains and over the bridge into the Bronx before turning left to follow the Henry Hudson Parkway. I alighted at 252nd street and followed the signs, past gigantic houses. One girl was setting up a party on her deck. At the gates to Wave Hill, I showed my museum membership card and was let in.
The grounds are well kept and manicured. Wildflowers are pushing up through the grass. Trees are beginning to bud and bloom. I walked to the cafe and ate a sandwich on the terrasse, overlooking the Hudson River. The sun shone off its surface.
I followed the half mile nature trail around the perimeter of the grounds and then found a chair in the elliptical garden. I sat and let the sun warm me. I read and watched the river. I listened to children race through the park.
As the sun began its descent, the hour drew towards closing time. I got up to walk aound the rest of the gardens before heading back to Manhattan. Children splashed around the marine garden, set in between trellised walkways. To the side a secluded bench lorded over another garden. A group of art students set up beside a large tree, its branches still bare.
I took the 1 train back to the city, to ride over the Bronx and Inwood rather than under it. But soon I was again underground. And as the train rocked on its subterranean tracks, surrounded by darkness, I slept.
April 15, 2005
And tonight there shall be . . . reblochon!
Ed's back in town. Tonight we're having dinner with Guillemette. She said she found reblochon. She said she only bought a little bit. She's afraid I'll eat too much in one go and get sick. So tonight it's wine and cheese and then dinner. Yum!
April 12, 2005
On the impossibility of marriage
Sunday, Guillemette invited a few people for dinner. She was creating a meal for blog-appetit. Lamb and peas were the necessary ingredients. The meal was delicious. It started with a tart of tapenade of olive, leaks cooked in white wine, and goat cheese. The crust was impossibly flakey, as if it barely held before crumbling in your mouth. The main dish was a lamb curry with peas served with a mix of brown rice and cilantro. The lamb was incredibly tender.
Catherine served. Pia declined cilantro on her rice. She said she only liked the way cilantro was used in South American cooking. She felt that in the United States they used too much of it. Catherine compensated by loading my rice with cilantro.
We talked about Hotel Rwanda
, the Jackson Trial, the demonstrations in China, and mothers with respect to significant others. On the tail end of a conversation bridging the last two subjects, Berit made a comment about automobiles and China. Someone asked what she had said. And then, like a shouting match version of telephone, her words came to be, "Who would ever want to marry Eugene?" People laughed. Berit looked around the table in surprise, then lowered her head and smiled. "Yes, that's what I said," she said. Then, misquoting herself: "Who would
ever want to marry Eugene?"
April 11, 2005
Yesterday afternoon I went out to Queens to check out the Alley Pond Environmental Center. I had wanted to go hiking. At the end of the 7 line, I looked for the Q12 bus. A girl was boarding before me. I heard her mention the center and told her I was heading in the same direction. "Good," she said. "You can show me where it is." The bus driver didn't know. I had to call the Center.
We missed our stop and had to get off at the next one. Walking back to the center I leared she was a junior at Brooklyn Tech. She was out at the center doing research in preparation for an environmentathon the following weekend. She asked me if I were in high school or college. I said I was older than that. She said I looked older. I told her I was 33. She said wow. She said that's really old. She said she thought I was in my twenties, but wasn't sure. My cap might have been hiding a lot of grey hairs.
April 10, 2005
Martha Graham and the Middle East
Last night I went to see the Martha Graham dance company. I sat beside a man from Maine. He told me that he had worked in third world economic development. We talked about the places he'd been, and discovered that we had both been in Syria last year. A friend of his from Aleppo had picked him up at the border with Turkey and showed him around.
He spoke Turkish, having worked in Turkey for a number of years. He said he had known Farsi, which both helped and hindered. His first time in Turkey, Farsi would slip out when he tried to speak Turkish; then it was illegal to speak Kurdish or Farsi in the country. His driver convinced him to stop attempting Turkish: "You'll go to jail; I'll go to jail." He didn't learn the language until much later.
We compared dates and learned that we had missed being in the country at the same time by a few weeks. He asked me what trips I was planning and I told him I was thinking of Spain and Morocco or Morocco and Egypt in the fall. He said Morocco was magic. He recommended travelling from Siberia to Mongolia. He said Lake Baikal was amazing.
After the performance we shook hands. As we parted, he said it was nice sitting next to me. I concurred. He said, "An unusual commonality of experience."
April 6, 2005
Photography and art
HIromi asked me yesterday to take her picture for her resume. I told her she should come over and we could try taking some on the roof. I didn't have a white sheet and so I took her against the wall. Then, on Spring Street, I took a few more portraits. Later I tried to take some candids. She posed every time.
For dinner we ate at XO Kitchen. Afterwards, we had tea at Ten Ren and started a long conversation about museums and their role in arts education. Hiromi lamented the fact that at MoMA there were few descriptive texts that contextualized the art. She felt it was a large responsibilty of a museum to educate. She felt that a museum shouldn't be regarded as entertainment, but as school. I agreed to a point, but felt also that arts education should be emphasized in the schools, to give a basis for arts appreciation and an interest in the arts. We batted the idea back and forth until the tea shop was about to close. We left and they lowered the grate behind us.
April 5, 2005
After dim sum we went to MoMA to see Starlit High Noon
, part of the New Directors/New Films series. I liked it, though it was a little long in the middle and underexposed. While the dark nature of the print was intentional, at times I wanted to better see the compositions. The director spoke briefly before the film and suffered a Q and A session at the end. He was very funny.
We had a few hours to kill before the ND/NF closing dinner and so Cherry and I went to Starbucks and sat and flipped through the Times
and talked. Eric joined us near eight; he had invited us to accompany him to the dinner.
A long table was set up at Il Gattopardo. Eric explained that when the Modern bought out the restaurant space beside MoMA, the proprietor of the Italian restaurant that used to occupy that space wanted to keep his restaurant near the museum. He opened up behind the museum; the curators all still go to his restaurant for lunch.
We were the second group to arrive. We were welcomed by the curator and sat across from the cinematographer of Starlit High Noon
and his camera assistant. Soon, the director arrived, and then the rest of the invited filmmakers and guests. The wine was very good, the swordfish buttery, the pasta rich. Nakagawa Yosuke was charming, and it was fun talking to his cinematographer. Yosuke told us that he worked for ten years as a businessman, saving money. He then quit his job and self-financed his first film, a 60 minute short. With that as a calling card he sought to secure further work.
We were the last group in the restaurant. After the dinner we made our way to the street. We said our goodbyes and then said our goodbyes again before taking the train home.
I called Cherry Sunday morning. I didn't realize it was daylight savings time. It sounded like I woke her up. She said I didn't.
We made plans to meet at Golden Unicorn for dim sum. When we arrived, we walked right in. We sat at a table with two caucasian college students. One was teaching the other about dim sum. They had an argument about tapioca. One claimed they were made of rice. She used as an example tapioca rice pudding. I think that refers to two different things . . .
April 3, 2005
The news stops for no one
I was with Guillemette when the Pope died. We were on Elizabeth street viewing GQ's curated collection of photographs by servicemen and women from Iraq. She said she was disappointed by the show. She had expected to see a different side of the war. The photographs represented similar views of war and of being a soldier that already appear in magazines and on TV.
We wondered if it was because, living in a mediated world, people take pictures that reflect what we expect to see reflected through what we already see. I said the show probably reflected the curatorial bent of GQ magazine's editors. Of some 10,000 photographs by 1,000 photographers, less than 100 made it to the walls of the Nolita gallery.
We walked out of the gallery into the rain. Simone sms'd me but I didn't have time to check the message. We walked to Cafe Gitane and then to Ceci Cela for coffee. Guillemette ordered a cappuccino. I ordered a cappuccino, and Guillemette chimed in, "and a Paris Brest?" I didn't know what it was and so ordered one. She said it was sinful. She told me stories of eating them when she was younger, and how her aunt would buy her cousins one every Sunday after mass.
As we sat and drank and tried to dry out, Guillemette's phone rang. A sign above her head read "No cellphones in this room." She answered. I checked my messages. Simone's message told me the pope had died. I looked at Guillemette and said the pope had died an hour ago. It was her editor on the phone. She had to get to work.
April 2, 2005
All I want are chicken burritos
Last night I went to the Plum Blossom gallery for their new show of Japanese artists. In the middle of the gallery a DJ spun records. He had pasted pins to records and played them with a contraption of his own making. The effect was like a Fisher Price record player. The pins played out a rhythm track as they spun under a revised arm. He had connected a blender to his mixing deck and as he played the rhythm, he made banana milkshakes. The whirl provided ambient texture. The place was packed. The milkshakes looked refreshing.
April 1, 2005
A green future
I met Cherry and Nick for dinner last night at Ollie's before the screening. My fortune: "Your love of gardening will take on new meaning in your life."
Last night, Eric's short documentary Music Palace
debuted at the New Directors New Films festival. The print, blown up to 35, looked great. As I sat waiting for the screening to begin, I listened to the people behind me discuss the subject. "It's on the closing of the last Chinatown movie theater in the States," one explained. "Oh, cool," came the reply. "I want to see that."