Posted by eugene at 9:32 AM
June 26, 2009
This morning a girl in a black New York Yankees baseball cap and Betty Boop backpack sang "Thriller" on the subway. In her hands she clutched a discman. She shuffled to the beat. Her thin voice imitated every tic and scream of Michael Jackson's performance.
Posted by eugene at 9:32 AM
Michael Jackson at 50
I heard the news at work. I was designing on a mockup related to the CNN home page, and the lead story suddenly changed from Farrah Fawcett to Michael Jackson. He had been rushed to the hospital. One report said he had suffered cardiac arrest. No one confirmed it. Officials refused to comment, citing privacy laws. TMZ claimed death; I held out, waiting for confirmation.
After taking the subway home, I checked my phone. The NYTimes published a story citing the LATimes, which confirmed the news. The AP had posted a quick, poorly written obituary. The NYTimes published the AP story. Michael Jackson, 50 years old, had died. In the bookstore "Beat It" was playing on the stereo. I heard a woman tell her co-worker that it had been her first favorite song.
I grew up with Michael Jackson. I taped Thriller from a friend and listened to the cassette until the music had become a throbbing bass heavy blur. I checked Off the Wall out of the library on vinyl and put that on the reverse side. I watched MTV whenever I had the chance, waiting to see the 30 minute Thriller video, and then kept watching to see the making of documentary. I studied the dance moves and practiced in the living room after school. I coveted the red jacket, the single sequined glove. I longed to visit Disney World to see Captain EO in 3D.
I went back in time, seeking out the Jackson 5's Motown sides before jumping forward to Bad. It wasn't until Dangerous that my devotion began to flag (even though there were still songs I thorougly enjoyed). By then only one album remained.
I still can't believe the news. There's something about it that seems impossible and at the same time almost unsurprising. I've pulled out all his albums (as the news stations and MTV have been pulling out clips and videos) and am listening to as I write. On record he still sounds so fresh, so new, so alive; and each track serves to rekindle the love I have for Michael Jackson.Posted by eugene at 12:17 AM
June 22, 2009
Photoshop for six
One is from Puerto Rico, one from Mexico. Another makes the trip from Connecticut; one has recently returned from seven years in Kenya. One other hails from Scotland; I am uncertain of the last. These six students comprise the intensive Photoshop for photographers intermediate class offered by the International Center for Photography this past weekend and next. I am the teaching assistant. Given the different ways in which individuals approach the application, I feel like I'm learning as much as the students, especially given the instructor's methodical approach.
Before the first class began the instructor had everyone introduce themselves. Of them all, I was the only one without a digital camera. Later, during a break in the class, one student asked me why; class began before I could answer.
The instructor taught the material methodicall , emphasizing workflow throughout. I learned new ways of using the tools even as I demonstrated them. The class followed, some more readily than others.
After the first day I was exhausted. I was amazed that someone could lecture and demonstrate for seven hours straight. That night I went home and did nothing.
The next day followed much as the first, though by the afternoon the students were given free time to work on their own projects. I hung back and let the instructor field most of the questions, stepping in to answer technical ones. I didn't want to introduce my methods even if they ran complimentary to the instructor's. At times, I would see simpler solutions to a student's problem, but I checked with the instructor to see if he was covering that material. If not I let work in peace, patiently waiting in the corner for my name to be called.Posted by eugene at 6:59 PM
June 19, 2009
Saturday I met Will at Co. We had worked together for a time before he moved to Portland, Oregon, by way of New Zealand. He was in town for a reunion and, a devoted pizzaholic, was eager to try as many new pizza places as possible before he left the city. He had organized a walking tour for that afternoon, where he planned to visit five shops. Co. was the first.
I was second to arrive. His friends arrived shortly thereafter. The restaurant had just opened and we were seated immediately at the far end of a long table. Annie Lennox sang loudly from the stereo, but was soon replaced by The Smiths at a much more pleasant volume.
We ordered the margherita and the boscaiola. The pizzas were tasty, but small. The former was light on the sauce and the cheese, and sprinkled with coarse salt; the combination worked better than I would have thought. The latter was spicy and flavorful.
After we had finished the two pies, Will was tempted to order more. His friend reminded him of the itinerary and urged caution. Will relented, and we paid.
I walked with them partway to the next stop on the tour, then had to leave them. A friend was playing his first gig in New York as part of a Williamsburg music festival and I went off to lend my support. The set was short; the room was sparsely populated. My friend sounded great; I was glad to finally see him perform live.
My cousin called and asked if i had plans. She had just finished a salsa class and was shopping in the city. I told her I was going to Central Park to tango, and invited her to come. We met in Union Square and rode the subway together. The sky was heavy, but the rain had subsided temporarily.
We found the tango dancers in the diary. The space was limited, but the setting was pictaresque. A lesson was announced and my cousin went to take her first tango class. I watched the dancers. Soon, another friend appeared and we danced. My cousin had been swept up by another dancer who was pushing her beyond her level. I found her and walked with her a bit before returning to my friend. Her friend, also a novice, danced with my cousin.
At nine, the milonga ended. Dancers faded into the shadows, umbrellas cautiously in hand. A raccoon passed by the dance floor. I said goodbye to my friend and her companion and walked with my cousin west, towards Columbus Circle. I asked her what she wanted for dinner; she told me she was curious about Co.
Once again we were seated immediately; this time at the opposite end of the communal table. The music was a mix of The Cure and New Order. The restaurant was packed. We ordered a Popeye (pecorino, gruyère, buffalo mozzarella, spinach, black pepper, garlic) and a Bird's Nest. The pizza was still tasty (the former more so than the latter, which was trying too hard) but I had had enough. My cousin appreciated the pies and we lingered over coffee.
I walked her to her train and we said our goodbyes. She thanked me for dinner and for taking her to the milonga, then slipped through the turnstiles.Posted by eugene at 4:20 PM
June 8, 2009
Central Park tango resumes
Saturday marked the return of tango to Central Park. It's the 13th year for the weekly summer event held in the shadow of the Shakespeare statue. It was a beautiful evening; slightly humid but cool. The trees were full and green. The sun threw slanted rays through their leaves.
Dancing got off to a slow start. The music had started but pedestrians and bicyclists continued to stroll through the area. Then one couple started dancing; then another. Pedestrians paused, stopping to watch. A semi-circle formed around the entrances and exits to the plaza. The dancers multiplied. The crowd grew.
I saw a lot of familiar faces; many I hadn't seen since last summer. At one point, N appeared. Her roommate was dancing and she took video with her digital camera. "There are eight milongas happening tonight," she announced. "We're going to them all!"Posted by eugene at 3:14 PM
June 6, 2009
There is a light and it never goes out
I've been having troubles with the electricity in my bathroom. For a while now, the plugs have been dead. Lately, the light won't turn on unless you jiggle the switch a few times. I finally called the superintendent.
Last night, he came by with his tools and a new lighting fixture. In a few minutes he had replaced the wall plug and then the overhead light. He invited me to test the plug. It worked perfectly. He smiled and pointed up at the new light. I thanked him. He left without his coat. I chased him down the stairs to give it back. He thanked me. He went home.
Pleased with the new fixtures, I went to look again at the plug and the light. I washed my hands and tidied up, sweeping up the dust he had left behind. Leaving the bathroom I flipped the switch off. The light remained on. I flipped the switch on and off. The light shone. I laughed and called the super. He wasn't home. I left a message and waited. The light continued to shine throughout the night.Posted by eugene at 9:48 AM
June 5, 2009
Friday afternoon, five p.m.
It's wet today, a steady rain since morning shows no sign of abating. For lunch I ate crab and watercress and a flat Indian pancake known as roti, washed down with copious amounts of tea. The crab was slathered with a spicy sauce, the watercress with belachan, another spicy sauce.
In the afternoon I went to the Gagosian to see the Picasso exhibita series of late paintings populated with characters from the painter's imagination. The canvases leapt from the walls, their interior worlds rich with color. The drawings etched themselves into the frames.
Afterwards, we ate crepes in a cafe on 9th avenue. The rain continued to fall. The cafe filled and emptied, then filled. We ate ham and cheese with a mesclun salad paired with a cafe mocha and a cappucino, then chocolate and banana crepes for dessert. We sat and waited for the rain to end. It wouldn't end; it won't end until the evening, and perhaps not even then. Tomorrow the forecast promises the sun; Sunday brings back the rain. What of the rainday? It is today, though it doesn't have a name. I am now home and dry for the moment.Posted by eugene at 5:15 PM
An alternate birthday
Yesterday was my birthday. It was a good day, though it seemed that I ended up with the alternate offering of what I had originally planned. I had wanted to go to the Finger Lakes to hike and canoe, but because of the weather ended up at the Dia:Beacon. In the morning I had wanted fish cake noodle soup from Bo Ky (my favorite noodle shop), but because I confused two words I had only heard in Cantonese, I ordered the sliced fish noodle soup. For dinner, I had decided to go to Ippudo, but the line was too long and I opted for Soba-Ya.
That said, each of the substitutes was great in and of themselves. And the company was first-rate. :-) I couldn't have asked for more. Oddly, I actually feel younger. Onwards and upwards.Posted by eugene at 11:30 AM
June 1, 2009
A wedding in Fishkill
This past weekend Sonjia and Eric L. exchanged vows by Willow Lake in Fishkill, New York. The day couldn't have been more perfect; the sun shone, clodus dotted the sky. After the ceremony, we circumscribed the lake and climbed a small rise to dinner and cocktails by a tent set up for the occasion. The sun slipped slowly behind the mountains. Faces glowed in the afternoon light.
I left Manhattan Saturday afternoon in a rented Kia along with my friends Diana and Cherry and Cherry's husband Eric C. The roads clear, and as we drove further north, trees began to replace buildings until we had left the grey behind for green. I had met Eric L. through Cherry on a film shoot years ago. Later, I would find myself working on Eric's short film, Fishkill alongside Cherry. As our surroundings changed, I remarked upon how much more beautiful the area was than I had remembered. Cherry then told me that we had shot Eric's film in New Jersey. "The magic of movies!" she said as everyone laughed.
I asked about places to get away in the area. My birthday is coming up and I had thought about leaving the city for a few days. Cherry and Eric suggested Block Island or Cape Cod. I mentioned I wanted to hike. I also mentioned canoeing, but in fresh, not salt, water. "Is there anything else?" Eric asked. "Mr. Particular!" Cherry said. I protested. "I thought I was making it easier by narrowing things down!"
She said I should create a website where people can fill in a form with all their vacation needs. The site would then provide a series of locations. They kept adding features at my expense. During dinner Cherry mentioned my tendency to be exacting. I admitted I was picky. She laughed. She told me she and a mutual friend had discussed it in the past, wondering who I'd end up dating.
We arrived at the hotel a few hours before the wedding. The hotel was located near a business park at an intersection of strip malls. We checked into our respective rooms and decided to have lunch at Boston Market. Our room had a panoramic view of the 24 hour Walmart superstore across the street.
The wedding itself was beautiful. The grounds by the lake consisted of rolling grassy hills surrounded by forest. Canoes were stacked by a small dock, but water sports were discouraged during the wedding. There was to be no swimming.
Sonjia and Eric exchanged vows by the lake. We stood around them in a semi-circle, some standing above on a hill. A small band comprised of friends had played as they approached, and after the ceremony they played "Two of Us." We were all encouraged to sing them on their way home.
Then it was time for cocktails and family photos. We gathered by a tent on the opposite side of the lake. Children ran around the grass, and their makeshift band of friends played cover songs during. At one point Kit and her husband John took to the stage to play a song they had written for the couple. Strumming ukeleles, they retold the story of their courtship in song to much laughter and applause.
The shadows lengthened. Soon Sonjia and Eric appeared at the base of the hill. Finished with their family photos they climbed the hill to join their party.
Dinner was set at rectangular communal tables; the food was served family style. We ate steak and scallops and monkfish and stuffed eggplants. Accoutrements included green beans, toasted risotto, and potatoes. We toasted the couple; we toasted those who came from afar; we toasted each other. Friends DJ'd and we all danced.
At the end of the night we retired back to the hotel with succulents, avocados, and table napkins. Eric's family brought the avocados and succulents from their farm; they had purchased the table napkins at Ikea and encouraged us to take them home. Cherry scrambled for more avocados but ended up with only two. She said she couldn't wait to make guacamole.
A small post-wedding gathering in the hotel bar expanded. As midnight loomed, I had grown too tired to continue in the post-festivities. I made my excuses and crept back to the room. I drew the curtains against the blue and white lights of the Walmart, closed my eyes, and went to sleep.Posted by eugene at 10:03 AM