Sorry for lack of posting for the past month. It was a busy time which involved getting a new flatmate, going to melbourne for a conference while all of victoria exploded in flames, then crossing the seas and the USA to New York -then crossing the USA and the seas back again to hawaii, then crossing the seas and the USA in a rather labyrinthine manner to return to New York where I'm slowly emerged from a a state of shock into a state of moderate contentment.you can see pcis of most of the above on my flickr site
Today in brooklyn's chinatown - some shopkeeper gave me a free chinese calendar to celebrate the new year (do you understand it? - I don't!)
anyway - Lunar or otherwise I'm happy to celebrate the end of the year of the dog - it's been a bitch of a time for me for bits of it -other's have been astonishingly good - or just astonishing.
It's nearly 2am on december 31st in New York - on my friend's couch where I'm typing from - and i'm thinking of home where people are gearing up for tonight's fireworks mosquito hazed sodden sweaty frenzy.
Manhattan has been getting progressively more berzerk all week. Pretzel stands catching fire, sirens blaring, hordes of gawking clans of scary midwest honkies and their hordes of spawn, and the big fat funeral of James brown to cap things off.
I've decided to stick to my side of the L-Train, the A-train and everything else that crosses the east river - until monday afternoon when I'm planning to venture out for a POETRY MARATHON.
I've decided that next year will be a time of new challenges and new personal thresholds. I HATE performance poetry as a general principal of random xenophobia, and don't understand poetry anyway - and part of me actually cringes internally a great deal at the thought of encountering freaky stuck up wannabe beat types who are stuck in some imaginary version of the lower east side from fifty years ago. And they'll be wearing berets, and duffle coats and reeking of ciggarettes, and be male wiht bad facial hair and worse teeth or female and fey and flat chested and I'll die a thousand deaths a thousand times over.
but tonight I faced a fear and did it anyway. My friend stacy came up from Tucson and we've been exploring the good, the lame and the ugly of the big apple - worms and all. the met was great, MOMA left us speechless, spanish Harlem was tops, bars in williamsburg made me swear off alcohol (they were too GOOD), the rockefeller centre and hordes of rug-rat clad tourists was totally ugly and scary and Little Italy was scary, or ugly, or maybe just lame.
This evening I sent stacy a text from the NYC public library - where I was sitting on the steps at 6pm -having been sent around the block and up the road (it being a tourist and touter packed 5th avenue) 3 times by seriously thick security guards - looking for basic info about how to get my ACCESS reading permit. Eventually I found a kind and well informed librarian who I could have kissed.
we agreed to meet in Union Square outside some great wholefoods emporium on 4th street. I hd a major craving for pho bo dac biet - so we went to chinatown (canal street subway) and battled more crowded footpaths before finding a $5 pho that was just a bit lite on the meat side - but was otherwise fine.
After being unsure whether to go to spaghetti fundraiser for alternative political theatre project or smutty burlesque club in brooklyn we headed up to washington square to check out former. It was in a converted church next to New york university. Something about the speghetti queue gave me flashbacks to Resistance dinners in sydney in the early '90's. maybe there were too many badly folksy knitted jumpers. Maybe this is the point where I have to cast out the logs of my own sartorial misfortunes. today I wore thick black wooolley tights - whose crotch kept sliding down my thighs. Over this I had a B&W stripey strethc cotton mini-dress/top thing. I topped this with very cheap plastic black moon boots and a cheap full length puffy polyester parker. I'm trying to look like I could *almost* be homeless, or mad or *almost* be cool but i'm not any of the above, just eccentric and anonymous. It suits the upside down state I feel. I'm not part of any tribe here yet - so the sore thumb stick-out look seems like a safe one.....
so back to the church - and the spaghetti queues. Stacy's friends form indymedia recognised us so we had a little chat and then I recognised Michael Taussig from the corner of my eyes and nearly wet myself (gushing girly swot that I am).I went up and gushed about something (ohh yeah - my research) and told him that I loved New York so much that I was on the lookout for a husband or a postdoc here. he smiled. It looked like it would be a good night.
but then the MC started with a bad powerpoint presentation and excessive enunciation and thespianically declaimed lines that gave me sneaking suspicion of rehearsal and collective scripting. I shuddered. I admit I'm the queen of bad performance but this was BAD. and full of 'in jokes' that people were laughing at in an ostentatious manner that made me feel embarrassed for them and embarrassed for me having to witness such tosh.
So this ended eventually and th first act: a 'rock opera', descended from above and swarmed among us, wearing costuems from New york's Reverse Garbage and clacking stones. This was cute - and could have been brilliant if thought through a little more..... I won't add suggestions - but err... less silly costumes, more rocks, more weird amplification, more orchestration? more merging between crowd and performance -its easily done!
so we went downstairs to the 'live painting' room - where a jazz band was doing post punk improvisation (think aural threshold exercises) and some guy was doing a rolf harris reenactment with rollers using red and black paint on ply. Ohhh shit. I hate it when people think that popping some person with a bit of paint in a room so punters can gawk at them going hell for leather with the drippy stuff gets labelled as some kind of improvisational interactive live performance. If painter pete is on planet painting and just doing their stuff doing the oblivious public solitude act - then it's not a performance. stacy liked the black kangaroo form with the red skyscrapers tho..... I wondered if he was sponsored by quantas.
So we ventured the audio tour - and that was simple - but pretty cool. a blind fold, headphones and a guide to lead us around the park. I found walking blind hard enough - but the audio scapes of different stories were INTIMATE AND COMPELLING (TM). Nice embedding into the bodily habitus there. Tres good.
so that was so nice that after a quick retour of the other pieces we decided to head off with a smile on our faces and try the Brooklyn burlesque. We got the subway to union street and then wandered up to 'union hall' - and found a imitation victorian gentleman's club filled with frat boys - it was like 'Porky's' meets 'the hours'. We descended to the cave in hope and coughed up cash and then saw bits of some skinny girls showing off their Victoria's Secret underwear, in front of a big crowd of yelling frat boys.Actually the girl strippers were OK, and the music was cool - but the crowd was really really ghastly. I realised how niaive and sheltered I must be beause when I think of Brulesque I automatically assume it'll be a queer, carnivalesque crowd - not a frigid raunch culture rip off. so Park slope is officially a scary place on a saturday night. we left soon after and got asked for cash by some guy in a hoodie. We offered him our fruit.
I'm having and intimate and entertaining NYE with close friends but thought Id try the poetry marathon on new years day - just coz its something I'd never do in sydney - and maybe it'll be cool (patti smith is on the bill). And if not - I can write long words about it and people reading it will think I'm cool just for doing even lame and dumb stuff in such a cool place. and it is cool. not cold. I'll do raptures later.
happy pig year