Friday, August 29, 2008

ConEd surprise

So you know all that rage about high gas prices? Never really hit me. No car. No gas to buy. Not until now. My electricity bill for the past month? For my studio? $136.64. Um, yeah. Maybe summer coming to a close ISN'T such a bad thing after all.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

NYC Waterfalls redux

I was somewhat ambivalent when I saw Olafur Eliasson's Waterfalls for the first time, but I have to say I have a stronger affection for them at night. Granted, there's a limited amount of time to experience them illuminated from behind by the LED lights, but that span will grow longer as the days get shorter, moving toward the outdoor exhibition's closing in mid-October. Twilight ends around 8:20 lately, and the waterfalls stay on until 10. We got to enjoy them after seeing the latest theater-in-a-round-tent acrobatic cabaret, Desir, at Spiegelworld, the seasonal entertainment venue that's been making the South Street Seaport safe for locals in recent summers. The waterfalls' ghostly white flicker makes for a wonderful addition to the nighttime East River waterfront.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tunnel mural update

A friendly anonymous commenter, who sounds like s/he is involved somehow, offered this explanation for the new mural at the entrance to the 191st Street 1 train station:

"The mural is being sponsored by the NYC Department of Transportation and the Mayor's Office and fabricated by Groundswell Community Mural Project with Lead Artist Belle Benfield, Assistant Artist Chris Brown, and 15 teens, many of whom live and attend school in the Washington Heights area. The Y of Washington Heights/Inwood has also played a significant role in supporting the project by providing space to the team to brainstorm and design the mural. Look forward to the entire tunnel being painted this upcoming Wednesday, August 20th by City Year and 150 volunteers."

The mural project website lists Friday, August 22 - time TBA - as the dedication day for the artwork. I really hope that the artistic designs shame the taggers from leaving their mark on, at least, the mural portion of the new paint job.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Reality wrapped in a nest of joy and historic scope

The opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games, the latest stunning installment of which we witnessed last night, have the power and global reach to tell us a lot about what's good and what's less than good about the world at a given moment. Chief among the good on display 8/8/08 would have to be the awe-inspiring spectacle carried out, under the grand cinematic eye of Zhang Yimou, by the cheerful, intense and well-rehearsed thousands of Chinese who got to be a part of the show at the Bird's Nest. It really was stirring in a way that surpasses most of what memories I have of other artistic displays preceding other games. Yes, it could be seen as a brilliant piece of propaganda for the Communist Party, but I'm willing to accept that taint for the beauty it held.

The second act, of course, is the parade of nations, when a taste of reality sets in: We are reminded of all the war-torn and poverty stricken countries that still cover the earth and we are reminded of how, while we do a lot as a country to ease those pains, we do much also to cause them, whether directly or indirectly. We are reminded of how so many countries continue to treat women as lesser humans, whether through national policy or less-official though no less scary means. We're reminded of how fluid the flags under which the athletes compete can be -- whether for noble reasons or more pecuniary ones. Thus is the ebb and flow of globalization. And of course, the ideal of the Olympic truce was thrown out the window this year, as Russia and Georgia raised arms against one another yesterday.

Lucky, for hopeful people, there is a third act to these ceremonies: the finale of the worldwide torch relay. Eight last runners carried the Olympic flame around the National Stadium -- truly a work of art in itself and already one of my favorite new buildings of this century. Li Ning, a 1984 medalist in gymnastics, received it last. He was lifted into the sky and "ran" around the circumference of the stadium's rooftop scrim before lighting the cauldron, a structure twisted like the end of a scroll. It continued a moving theme of the evening from a country that invented paper and printing. If you didn't get a chance to see the ceremonies, look for an opportunity to do so. I will remember it for a long time.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Tunnel Street makeover

The three-block-long "spooky" tunnel (something of an obsession of mine) that connects Broadway with the 191st Street (1) train subway station has been closed intermittently in recent days, I'd imagine, to allow for some talented artists to create a mural surrounding the entrance. As much as I've gotten use to the perpetual cycle of graffiti and whitewashing that goes on inside the tunnel, it's a welcoming site to see such bright colors at the mouth. I wonder who's been doing the painting.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Nah gonna see it

So is NOT seeing The Dark Knight a countercultural choice yet?