Category Archives: Humor

Lame Adventure 439: The Annual Halloween Scourge

As Halloween fast approaches, Jack O’Lanterns, black cats, creepy tales about ghosts and goblins abound. But my mind is drawn in the direction of something truly frightening. Something that has nothing to do with apparitions, zombies or cackling witches, but is infinitely more terrifying and gag-inducing:

Candy Corn

Candy Corn.

These pellets of tooth rotting mouth burn have been haunting the US and Canada since the 1880s. Made from all naturally bad ingredients — sugar, corn syrup, carnauba wax and artificial coloring, the National Confectioners Association estimates that 25 million pounds of this poison are sold annually.

Doomsday scenario: candy corn, roaches and rats inherit the earth.

Doomsday scenario: rats and roaches feeding on candy corn inherit the earth.

The name candy corn always sounded so appetizing to me as a child. I liked candy. I liked corn. I still like both candy and corn. But every time I ate candy corn I would feel bamboozled.

Me (as a child): This doesn’t taste anything like candy or corn! It tastes awful!

It was too sweet, too fake and if I ate more than two pieces at one time, I would feel like I had a sore throat for three days. To my sensitive palate, candy corn’s most prominent ingredient is irritation with tooth decay a close second. Possibly I am in the minority i.e., someone who is not drawn to foodstuffs that are derived from dual-purpose ingredients. Carnauba wax can also be used on cars, surfboards and to shine shoes. Shoe polish is more appetizing to me. I like its smell, not to imply that I’d also like it spread on a cracker.

As for candy corn’s artificial food coloring, what might it look like without it? Marlon Brando is famous for saying:

Marlon Brando: The most repulsive thing you could ever imagine is the inside of a camel’s mouth.

As I imagine what candy corn looks like in its natural state, hardened repugnant fluids are crossing my mind. I’d much rather take a gander deep down a camel’s gullet, but while wearing nose plugs.

As I think about rank scents, the overly sweet, cloying smell of candy corn is noxious to me. When I whiffed the contents of this bag of it …

Purchased from It's Sugar, first cousin of It's Tooth Decay.

Purchased from It’s Sugar, first cousin of It’s Cavities.

My eyes started watering and I suffered a wave of nausea. If Wayne Newton had been playing on the radio, I would have become physically ill.

It baffles me why something so toxic does not come with a Surgeon General’s warning. Anyone pregnant, nursing or would like to live beyond age sixty should not eat this cacophony of bad chemistry. I looked at a cross section of a piece of one where the bottom fell out. It appeared stuffed with something. My first guess is bad vibes. My second is the active ingredient in toenail fungus.

Candy corn innards.

Candy corn innards channeling Dr. Scholl.

Considering that 25 million pounds of this blight is sold annually, someone must do the unthinkable: eat it. How can this be? Who are these people? Could it be scoring a big hit with small fry who have underdeveloped taste buds? Or, the elderly who are so heavily medicated that their taste buds are obliterated? Who likes these toxic lumps? I want to know. Are they inbred, do they have the intellectual acuity of a small soap dish, do they hail from the town of Stepford?

25 million pounds is 12,500 tons. The Statue of Liberty weighs 125 tons. Who in the US and Canada is contributing to ingesting the equivalent of one hundred statues of liberty made out of sugar, car wax and artificial food coloring instead of the infinitely tastier combination of copper and steel? Here’s a scary thought: could I know someone that eats candy corn? I must, but who could that be? Neither of my parents were candy corn eaters. My dad liked peanuts and my mother, cheese. My siblings and niece are not candy corn eaters, either, and my brother-in-law, Herb, likes waffles. I’m a product of a completely candy corn-free family. But someone in my orbit must be doing his or her part to keep candy corn thriving ever since Grover Cleveland was president. Confounded, I vented my frustration about this bottomless pit of orange, yellow and white scourge haunting every Halloween to my trusted confidant, my best friend, Milton. He responded to my tirade with a photo of his desk at his Grind.

Milton's desk at his Grind.

Sucker punched.

Lame Adventure 438: Faking it

Who are they kidding?

A decent neighborhood burger and brew but only the best if this was your first meal out of captivity.

I had been running errands in my neighborhood, the Upper West Side. As I was walking north on Broadway, past the Northface store at the corner of 73rd Street, a middle-aged woman walking south said in an authoritative tone of voice:

Authoritative Woman: This used to be an Urban Outfitters.

My inner eavesdropper itched to interject:

Me: No, before it became Northface, it used to be the Gap. Urban Outfitters is still where it’s always been: on the corner of 72nd and Broadway.

I’ve lived on the Upper West Side for so long, before that space was Urban Outfitters, it was an HMV music store and before that, it was a Manufacturer’s Hanover Trust bank. But, as my late, great father would advise my inner neighborhood historian:

Dad: Don’t be a buttinsky.

So, I didn’t scratch that itch; I kept my pie hole shut and walked on. The woman’s know-it-all tone probably convinced her companion that she knew what she was talking about, assuming he was listening, because what a banal topic of conversation. What is so special about Urban Outfitters? It’s a store that would seem inclined to do reverse carding: if you’re over 21, you’re not allowed entry. If that couple had just had a meal heavy on carbs, he might have been struggling to maintain consciousness. But if he was lucid as they continued walking south, passing Urban Outfitters, he might have asked his mate:

Authoritative Woman’s Companion: Is this the Urban Outfitters store of your recollections, dear?

And today, she’s filing for divorce.

My first memorable encounter of someone speaking fact about fiction in an authoritative tone occurred thirty-seven years ago in my youth in San Francisco. Somehow, my brother Axel and I were selected to work a test screening of a film written by Neil Simon called The Goodbye Girl. The screening was taking place at the Northpoint, a movie theater on Powell Street. Our job was to hand out questionnaires and to collect them from audience members after they had seen the film. The stars, Richard Dreyfuss (who won the Best Actor Academy Award for this picture) and Marsha Mason, attended. Even Neil Simon was there (he was married to Mason then). This was a Big Deal test screening. We got to see the film and we collected a few bucks each. It was a sweet deal for us.

Axel and I, with about ten other people, met with the test screening organizers in an office at the theater. Axel, coincidentally, worked for a company located in the building next door, a business that gave him hunks of Jarlsburg cheese because someone there was cheese-connected. The test screening organizers were not familiar with the turf of the Northpoint. They were struggling to figure out logistics. My brother interjected in an authoritative tone of voice:

Axel: I work next door. Just walk left and then turn right; you’ll be right there.

That’s the plan they decided to follow. My inner skeptic surfaced.

Me: How do you know this? You don’t work here.

Axel: I know. I made it all up, but if you say something with enough conviction, people will believe you.

That is a valid point. If you sound like you know what you’re talking about, odds are good that people will buy what you’re selling. Confidence is key, or in Axel’s case, conning was key. Axel was fed up with the organizers indecision about how to proceed, so he took it upon himself to be their unsolicited advisor. Fortunately for them, my brother did not volunteer to pilot their plane home. As for the woman speaking in an authoritative tone about the location of Urban Outfitters, she might have been surprised to see that she had misremembered the location of that store when she realized that it is still polluting the Upper West Side.

Somehow the screening worked out. I collected autographs from the stars and Neil Simon as they exited. Axel pounced on Richard Dreyfus to tell him how much he enjoyed his performance in Jaws. That memory still makes me die a little. Overall we had fun that night, but come to think of it thirty-seven years later, we were not asked to work another test screening again. Maybe someone caught onto Axel’s bluff, the directions he gave led straight into a parking lot and word spread to avoid hiring that obnoxious sibling act ever again.

Bonus image: autograph hounds bombarding Steve Carrell outside the New York Film Festival.

Bonus image: autograph hounds bombarding Steve Carrell outside the New York Film Festival.

Lame Adventure 437: Back to the Birds

The New York Film Festival’s closing night feature hit another high note, Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), is a pitch black comedy directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu. Michael Keaton plays a Hollywood has-been best known as the comic book hero, Birdman, a character that brought him fame and fortune. He is determined to resurrect his sagging career and gain relevancy by adapting a Raymond Carver story for the Broadway stage, even though he is losing his mind to Birdman who has a stranglehold on his identity.

Milton and I doubt that Birdman will come anywhere near the crowd pleasing popularity of Gone Girl, which opened the festival, at the US box office. But Birdman is a beautifully shot and edited film with a great jazz drum score. Michael Keaton, whose own career hit its high mark when he started playing Batman twenty-five years ago (a role he quit before acting in the third film of the series), is terrific as a man who is losing his grip on reality as he directs and stars in a play that is hemorrhaging his life savings. It nails the New York theatrical community with falling props, insecure, egotistical actors and nasty, snobby critics. Adding to the authenticity, much of it is shot at the Saint James theater, where Milton and I have seen many Broadway plays through the years. It’s very entertaining with an ending that’s open to interpretation.

Birdman played eight times on closing night at the festival. Milton and I could not afford to pay the king’s ransom to attend the star-studded gala screening. Our screening at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade theater did not rate an appearance by any of the stars. It was a venue with first come, first serve seating so loitering outside the press tent was not an option. Therefore, the closest we got to rubbernecking the likes of Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Edward Norton, Naomi Watts or Zach Galifianakis was this guy vacuuming the red carpet in anticipation of their arrival.

Vacuum-man.

Vacuum-man.

So, how does one follow up sixteen days of intensive film going in Lincoln Center? The first option is to enter withdrawal. The second it to head downtown, specifically to Greenwich Village to indulge in street theater.

Birdboy.

Birdboy.

As a longtime fan of pigeons, I was very excited to read last week in The New Yorker, that Tina Trachtenburg, also known as Mother Pigeon, an animal activist and artist, was conducting a pigeon “flashflock outstallation” in Washington Square Park on Saturday with a rain date on Sunday. Milton and I had tickets to two screenings on Saturday, so I was elated to see rain.

I was even more elated to see Mother Pigeon’s acrylic felt flock on Sunday.

Mother Pigeon's pigeon outstellation.

Mother Pigeon’s pigeon outstallation.

"Why aren't we in MoMA, Mother Pigeon?"

“Why aren’t we in MoMA, Mother Pigeon?”

Flock of feathered felt.

Flock of feathered felt.

She creates these whimsical creatures and gives each unique markings. She explains on her web site, “I like to make them all different because all pigeons are different.” As someone who is quite familiar with the many pigeons in my own midst, that is very true.

Mother Pigeon.

Mother Pigeon with the pigeons in her midst.

Yes, she even created one pecking at a slice of felt pizza.

Mother Pigeon pigeon pecking at pizza.

Mother Pigeon pigeon pecking at pizza.

As I was heading back uptown, I encountered life imitating art.

Mother Nature pigeon enjoying lunch.

Mother Nature pigeon pecking at pizza crust.

Lame Adventure 436: Notes from the New York Film Festival

Milton and I are continuing to attend the New York Film Festival. It concludes next Sunday, October 12. Thus far, we’ve seen a dozen films. Some have impressed us immensely, but even those that did not, we don’t regret seeing.

The Wonders, the second film directed by Italian filmmaker, Alice Rohrwacher, won the Grand Prix earlier this year at the Cannes film festival. Here in New York, getting your film screened is the award.

Alice Rohrwacher mingling after her screening.

Alice Rohrwacher mingling after her screening.

Even though I was well rested when we saw The Wonders, so little happens in this story about a family of rural beekeepers, I nodded out. When I woke, they had added a German boy to their family of four girls. I wondered how that happened? I had barely been comatose for a minute. Milton was fully conscious for the entirety of the film.

Me: Where did that German kid come from?

Milton: I have no idea.

Alice Rohrwacher had great enthusiasm during the q&a, but I agree with Milton:

Milton: I just hope that she’ll next make a film I like.

French film star Mathieu Amalric did a commendable job adapting a Georges Simenon novel, The Blue Room. It is a film noir that is a jigsaw puzzle of pieces but it’s major flaw is that we still were not entirely sure who did what at the end. But, it was entertaining and there was plenty of nudity. He gives spirited q&a.

Fully clothed Mathieu Amalric outside Alice Tully Hall.

Fully clothed Mathieu Amalric outside Alice Tully Hall.

We have seen several untraditional biopics at this year’s festival including Pasolini, written and directed by Abel Ferrara and starring Willem Dafoe, who Milton considered miscast, in the title role. Although the film was flawed, it was an imaginative telling about the final weeks in the life of the Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini who was murdered under mysterious circumstances in 1975. I liked how Ferrara depicted Pasolini as a guy who was so alive and full of creative energy as he grew closer to his untimely death. I also liked that Ferrara created the film that Pasolini intended to shoot next. During the q&a Ferrara got embroiled in a heated debate with an audience member who claimed that Pasolini had been assassinated. Ferrara didn’t subscribe to that idea and casually stuck his foot in his mouth when he referred to Pasolini as “a fucking filmmaker” further incensing the audience member.

Q&A with Abel Ferrara and Willem Dafoe.

Q&A with Abel Ferrara (l) and Willem Dafoe (r).

Filmmaker Mike Leigh returned to the festival for the tenth time with his 149 minute biopic about the 19th Century British landscape painter J.M.W. Turner, Mr. Turner. Timothy Spall grunts his way through the title role. When he spoke, his British accent was often so garbled; I had no idea what he was saying. I told Milton that I found that film as interesting as watching paint dry. Milton said that there was not enough story to merit almost two and a half hours.

Sneaking a shot of Mike Leigh in-between press people.

Sneaking a shot of Mike Leigh in-between press people.

Our favorite biopic was Bertrand Bonello’s Saint Laurent about the fashion visionary Yves Saint Laurent, featuring a superb Gaspard Ulliel in the title role and Helmet Berger as Saint Laurent at the end of his life. It focused on Saint Laurent’s most creative decade, 1967-1977, and his relationship with his business and life partner, Pierre Bergé. Its 146-minute length flew. The lush tale was full of hedonistic excess, passion, romance, gay sex, drugs, anxiety, torment, beautiful clothes, people and pets; a succession of French bulldogs always named Moujik. That film completely held my attention from start to finish.

Three other films that impressed us very much were thought provoking: Timbuktu by Abderrahmane Sissako, a true story beautifully filmed about the occupation of this city in Mali by jihadists. Music is banned, absurd rules are enforced without explanation, women are pressured into marriages against their will, children are quickly orphaned, and people are tortured and terrified. During the q&a the filmmaker aptly called Timbuktu “a society in crisis.” Audience members were left wondering what we could do to help? A start is to suggest getting word out about this film. If Timbuktu appears in a theater by you: see it. Then, feel lousy like us about what’s going on over there.

Timbukto director Abderrahmane Sissako post-screening.

Timbukto director Abderrahmane Sissako post-screening.

Former NYFF Program Director Richard Pena talking to Kessen Tall, Timbukto co-writer.

Former NYFF Program Director Richard Pena talking to Kessen Tall, Timbukto co-writer.

Two Days, One Night is a wrenching drama by the Dardenne Brothers starring Marion Cotillard as Sandra, a factory worker out on disability, who learns that management has decided to lay her off just when she is ready to return to work. If she can persuade her sixteen colleagues to forgo their 1000-euro bonus (about $1250), she will be allowed to keep her job. Cotillard is riveting. It’s a performance that’s Academy Award nomination-worthy.

Dardenne Brothers, Marion Cotillard and Kent Jones, NYFF Program Director.

Dardenne Brothers, Marion Cotillard and Kent Jones, NYFF Program Director (who our friend, Enchilada, calls Lurch).

Oren Moverman’s Time Out of Mind starring Richard Gere as a homeless man named George living on the street in New York City was a film with a gimmick that works. Much of this film was shot with hidden cameras as a disheveled Gere panhandles, sleeps on park benches and rides the subway. As longtime residents of New York, Milton and I are very familiar with seeing people like George who are on the fringes of society . We thought Richard Gere was terrific and his performance is Academy Award nomination-worthy.

Kyra Segewick, Richard Gere and Oren Moverman.

Ben Vereen, Kyra Sedgwick, Richard Gere, Oren Moverman and Kent Jones.

We also attended the centerpiece screening, the world premier of Paul Thomas Anderson’s highly anticipated adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s novel, Inherent Vice. I asked Milton if he ever read any Pynchon novels.

Milton: They’re about a thousand pages long with no punctuation.

Translation: no. This film is 148 minutes long and the plot is a convoluted detective story that is  impossible to follow featuring a fun pothead private investigator played by Joaquin Phoenix (who is excellent). It’s not a comedy, it’s not a drama, it’s not a thriller, but what it is most is tedious. If we had been stoned, or at least subject to a contact high, this plotless pile would have been far more entertaining and far less pointless.

Empty Inherent Vice press tent.

Empty Inherent Vice press tent.

Lame Adventure 435: Celebrity Stalking and the New York Film Festival

One of my former companions, Rockets Redglare, insisted that the older a woman grew, the more she disappeared. What a huge advantage that cloak of invisibility was for wily me on the opening night of the 52nd New York Film Festival where David Fincher’s latest film, Gone Girl, received its world premier.

Outside Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, eight posters promoting Gone Girl, rubbing it into the eyeballs for anyone without tickets.

Outside Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, eight Gone Girl posters rubbing it in to anyone without tickets.

I scurried around the press tent virtually unnoticed.

Press tent.

Press tent.

The area had heavy police presence.

Police barricades be damned!

Police barricades be damned! I am woman, I am invisible, hear my camera roar!

The cops ordered rubber necking pedestrians eager to glimpse the stars to keep moving. One cop thought he was hilariously funny when he barked:

Barking Cop: C’mon people, move it! That’s only Ben Affleck — not Matt Damon.

"Matt's here?"

“Matt’s here?”

But I was able to exploit my ability to impersonate air to photograph the stars Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike.

Rosamund Pike

Rosamund Pike

Ben again.

Ben again.

My luck ran out every time I tried to snap a shot of Tyler Perry, who was obscured by camera crews.

If only I was that tree!

I envy that tree’s view of Tyler Perry!

Milton and I have tickets to about half of the festival’s thirty-three main slate screenings.

Nice haul of tickets.

Nice haul of tickets.

Gone Girl screened nine times on opening night. We scored tickets to one of the cheap seat screenings at the Francesca Beale Theater, located across the street from Alice Tully Hall,  where David Fincher and the cast were in attendance.

Prized Gone Girl ducat.

Prized Gone Girl ducat.

Prized opening night playbill.

Prized opening night playbill.

I did put the camera away while watching the film.

I did put the camera away while watching the film.

The film was highly entertaining. The movie web site IMDB identifies it as a “Drama Mystery Thriller” but I prefer Milton’s succinct classification:

Milton: It’s a modern day film noir.

David Fincher has directed a riveting film about a couple hit hard by the recession. The husband (Affleck) finds his living room ransacked and his wife (Pike) missing on their fifth wedding anniversary. The plot is a wild ride full of many twists and turns about marriage, money and the media. Gillian Flynn, who wrote the novel that was the source material, adapted her book into a very impressive first screenplay. Come awards time, this film will likely receive multiple nominations.

Over the weekend, we attended screenings at Alice Tully Hall, and were promptly plummeted back to earth. On Saturday, we saw the North American premier of Italian filmmaker Asia Argento’s Misunderstood. In her introductory remarks, Amy Taubin, a member of the NYFF’s selection committee and a veteran film critic, gushed about seeing that film earlier this year at Cannes. She claimed that it was about “girlhood”.

Asia Argento, holding microphone; Amy Taubin sitting at her right.

Asia Argento, holding microphone; Amy Taubin sitting at her right.

The film, set in Rome in 1984, is about a nine-year-old named, Aria, whose megalomaniac showbiz parents hate each other’s guts, divorce and treat their youngest daughter with varying degrees of anger, indifference and rare affection. Throughout the entirety of the film Aria shuttles from one parent’s home to the other’s after she inevitably steps on a landmine pissing off these insufferable clods. Twice this kid attempts suicide. As the ending credits rolled I said:

Me: I feel like I’ve been bludgeoned.

Milton: I didn’t believe a single word of it.

During the q&a, Taubin asked Argento that considering that her name is Asia, one letter different than Aria, she is the daughter of famous parents (the filmmaker Dario Argento and the actress, Daria Nicolodi), and she was nine in 1984, was any of it autobiographical? Argento looked baffled, but volunteered that her name is Aria on her passport. She also revealed that the film was a comedy. That took us by surprise. But, we appreciated that she showed school spirit and attended her screening.

Asia Argento outside Alice Tully Hall following her screening that compelled us to eat pasta for lunch.

Asia Argento following her screening that compelled us to eat pasta for lunch.

The next day, we saw David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars, which had its US premier the night before. It is based on the novel written and adapted for the screen by Bruce Wagner. He was the only member of the production to attend the Sunday afternoon screening. He delivered a brief, but memorable, introduction. Possibly, he was quoting a fortune cookie:

Bruce Wagner: The road to hell is paved with laughter.

This film began as a clever satire about Hollywood: the egomania, desperation and how people invent themselves. Many of the jokes are hilarious. A secondary storyline features Julianne Moore as a middle age actress in a career slump obsessed with landing a particular part. Her performance was outstanding. But, the film derails in the last third. Even though it is not at all in the running for the worst film we’ve ever seen, it is one that we could not recommend to approximately 98 percent of the people we know.

My snack of choice this NYFF has been an organic dark chocolate bar I get at Trader Joe’s. Naturally I offer to share my bar with Milton but he prefers milk chocolate. He told me that the next time he eats a piece of my candy bar:

Milton: I’ll bring my own sugar to sweeten it.

Yum to me. Yuck to Milton.

Yum to me. Yuck to Milton.

Lame Adventure 434: Encounters with Heroes and Orifices on the Street in the City

Back in the day, when I was a relatively young buck-ette barely into my thirties I was gainlessly employed as a wage slave in broadcast news. One of my more memorable colleagues during those years of indentured servitude was Ernestine Frobish*. Ernestine was a classic jaded New Yorker, sixteen years my senior. Not many people called Ernestine her first name. She was Frobish. Her natural disposition was sour, but once you got to know her, she was pleasant and witty. Every so often she would share a pearl of Froboshian wisdom. My favorite gem:

Frobish: If someone’s an asshole at seven, odds are good they’ll be an asshole at seventy.

Hold onto that pearl.

Fast forward to the present, about a week ago. After I’m cut loose from The Grind, located in Tribeca, I hightail over to the East Village where I’m meeting my bud, Milton, to see an off-Broadway play.

Makers of Ambien beware: Ingmar Bergman's masterpiece reimagined as a 3 1/2 hour play.

Makers of Ambien beware: Ingmar Bergman’s masterpiece reimagined as a 3 1/2 hour play.

Whether I take the subway or hotfoot my way east, it will take the same amount of time to reach the theater. It was an off day from my spin bike riding. I welcomed power walking through rush hour pedestrian traffic.

I am so fleet of foot!

I am so fleet of foot!

As I am deftly weaving my way through the throng, I make unintentional shoulder contact with a woman thirty-five years my junior and thirty-five pounds my senior. The g-force of the impact is so significant I bounce off her. I am  airborne. My feet are off the ground. I am one with the pigeons!

"Dream on sister, you're not one of us."

“Dream on sister, you’re not one of us.”

Alas, I am not of avian descent. The street is packed with stores, all with plate glass windows that will shatter if a human flies into one at warp speed — my exact destiny. Fortunately, instead of crash landing through a storefront and marring both the display and my facial structure, two millennials of Japanese descent come to my rescue. This miracle couple catches me ensuring that I make a soft landing on my feet as opposed to a thunderously loud and very painful Fred Flintstone-style imprint though exploding glass. The woman who made the initial contact with my shoulder apologizes profusely. I, in turn, thank my saviors. It was a very civil and polite exchange to an event that lasted seconds, felt surreal and ended happily for all involved.

Ten minutes later, I join Milton completely forgetting about my flying episode moments earlier. I am fixated on his blue wristband, a wristband needed to gain entry into the theater, matching his blue water bottle cap. Life proceeds as usual.

Color coordinated Milton.

Color coordinated Milton.

On Sunday, there was the People’s Climate March. It was heavily promoted on the subway, in the news and even on trees in my neighborhood.

Upper West Side tree doing its part for the Peoples Climate March.

Upper West Side tree doing its part for the People’s Climate March.

I wanted to participate as a show of support because I believe that global warming is an even greater threat to human survival than terrorism. On the other hand, if I were held hostage and about to be decapitated, I would revise that thinking in a nanosecond. I had an ushering gig on PCM day so I could not participate in the march. The play I ushered was Bootycandy, an outrageous assembly of skits about being black and gay. I enjoyed that ushering gig immensely. And I felt guilty about that considering that the planet is dying.

The theater, Playwrights Horizons, is located on 42nd Street, which was directly along the route of the march. Times Square is always crowded, but it was even more crowded with an additional 310,000 people marching in the middle of it.

People and puppets marching.

People and puppets marching.

I knew that 42nd Street would be a zoo so I left my sanctum sanctorum earlier than usual. After exiting the subway, I walked down the busy avenue at half-speed, consciously avoiding bouncing off any oncoming shoulders or tripping over tots in strollers. As I passed a seemingly innocuous woman about my age, over fifty and under death, walking with a man, probably her husband, she gave me the hairy eyeball.

Seemingly Innocuous Woman: Look at her! Where does she think she’s going, that [insert c-bomb]!

She called me the word that rhymes with punt. I didn’t make contact with her, but she was spewing venom at me? Why, did she suffer Tourette syndrome? For a flash, I irrationally wondered if she might be heading to my play. She wasn’t. I concluded that she was a bitter bat with no filter. I remembered Frobish’s pearl of wisdom and looked on the bright side: I didn’t attend second grade with that asshole, and hopefully, I won’t encounter her again when she’s seventy.

*Yes, this is a Lame Adventures name.

Lame Adventure 433: A Koons of One’s Own

If you happened to visit Rockefeller Center, as I did recently, you might notice a 37-foot tall sculpture weighing 150 tons festooned with 50,000 flowers that looks distinctly like either a monumental Chia Pet (continuing where last week’s Lame Adventure left off), or half a child’s hobby horse and half a child’s dinosaur toy  in front of the Comcast Building* at 30 Rock.

Comcast Building

The Comcast Building.

Say hello to Split-Rocker, a sculpture by artist Jeff Koons standing where the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree will tower three months from now.

Split-Rocker

Split-Rocker (the bronze gilded statue is full-time resident, Prometheus).

If I had any say about this, I would suggest that “we” throw tradition to the wind, save a tree and hang holiday bells over Split-Rocker. Unfortunately, that is not in the cards. This whimsical exhibit will close on September 19th. But the Whitney is currently showing a retrospective of Koons’s work through October 19th.

Koons designed Split-Rocker in 2000. It was originally exhibited at the Palais des Papes in Avignon, France. He made two and owns one, the one on display in New York. Once it is dismantled, maybe it will head into storage in his garage in York, Pennsylvania. The other Split-Rocker belongs to billionaire industrialist, Mitchell P. Rales and his wife, Emily. They’ve had theirs on display in Glenstone, their private museum in Potomac, Maryland, for about a year. If you cannot visit New York in the next four days, you might want to give them a call.

Koons claims that his inspiration for this sculpture was a toy pony owned by one of his sons and a toy dinosaur.

Pony side.

Pony side.

Dino side.

Dino side.

The dinosaur owner was not identified, but considering the proliferation of toy dinosaurs that have ruled toy stores for the past twenty years it could have belonged to Any Kid or possibly someone age forty-five — coincidentally, Koons’s age in 2000.

Recently I read a lovely essay in the New York Times written by Bill Hayes about visiting the Metropolitan Museum with his two nieces, who are fourteen and eighteen. His older niece is an aspiring photographer who was blown away by Garry Winogrand’s photographs. His younger niece was more taken with the paintings, particularly Monet’s Water Lilies. This was the first time she had seen a Monet water lily painting. Bill told both girls that they could fall in love with a work of art, just as they can fall in love with a song. That work of art is theirs.

I cannot say I fell in love with Split-Rocker, but I thought it was fun. When I crossed the plaza to take a head on photograph of it, I noticed that there was a Metropolitan Museum gift shop. The windows were filled with Split-Rocker souvenirs.

Buy Split-Rocker stuff here.

Buy Split-Rocker stuff here.

The plate caught my eye, I could see myself having a slice of baked salmon on it, and so I entered the store looking for it.

Split-Rocker plate, perfect for display or dinner.

Split-Rocker plate, perfect for display or dinner.

I could not find it anywhere. I asked a clerk who was yawning where it was, wondering if it had sold out? She explained to me that if I were interested in it, she would contact the Met on my behalf.

Me: That’s very kind of you. How much is it?

Clerk: $500.

I parroted what she said, and she parroted me. There was a lot of parroting going on, but now I was intrigued.

Me: So how much is the vase?

Split-Rocker, the vase.

Split-Rocker, the vase.

Clerk: $5000.

I said nothing. She looked amused, indicating to me that she must be very used to stupefied expressions.

Me: Is there a Split-Rocker tee shirt?

I figured that in the law of averages wearable Split-Rocker might sell for $50.

Clerk: No. But the little book sells for $15.

Split-Rocker bargain book.

Split-Rocker book (not available on Amazon; I checked).

I refrained from barking:

Me: Finally! A bargain!

I thanked her for her time and left. I’m perfectly content with owning my memory of seeing Split-Rocker and enjoying some of the 50,000 flowers for free.

Actual living flowers in Split-Rocker.

Actual living flowers in Split-Rocker.

For those of you who will not make it to New York in time to see Split-Rocker in person, here’s the Lame Adventure movie.

* For you history buffs, this building was originally known when it opened in 1933 as the RCA Building. In 1988 until 2014, it was the GE Building. Now, Comcast owns it. Saturday Night Live, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Myers, NBC News and MSNBC all tape their broadcasts here.