Category Archives: new york city

Lame Adventure 470: The Highlight of the 53rd New York Film Festival

Milton and I have spent much of the past two weeks at the New York Film Festival where we’ve seen quite a few low lights. Before attending a screening of Mountains May Depart, the latest film by the Chinese director and screenwriter, Jia Zhangke, we rubber necked the red carpet photo op. Here is Jia with his frequent leading lady, his wife, Zhao Tao.

Tao and Jia.

Tao and Jia.

Mountains is a drama set in the past, present and future about a woman who is loved by two men, one rich and the other, poor. She marries the rich guy and has a son he names Dollar. Even though Jia insists that his film is about 21st Century capitalism and the discontent felt by those that have benefitted from it, we found it trite. To quote Milton:

Milton: I didn’t buy any of it.

He also hated the q&a and grumbled:

Milton: I can’t believe I’m giving up food for this.

What I will remember most from that film is how much it made me crave dumplings.

While Milton was in the bathroom, I noticed the filmmaker, Michel Gondry, in the lobby, following a screening of his latest, Microbe & Gasoline, a whimsical tale about two French teenage boys that build a vehicle and set out on a road trip.

Michel Gondry.

Michel Gondry.

I found it entertaining fluff. Milton thought it had absolutely no business being in the festival and groused that that slot should have gone to Macbeth starring Michael Fassbinder and Marion Cotillard. I would have gladly argued that point with him, but I couldn’t. I was also disappointed that Macbeth wasn’t screened.

While I was busy at work, Milton emailed me that filmmaker Chantal Akerman had died in Paris on Monday, an apparent suicide. This was quite a shock. We had tickets to her latest film, No Home Movie, and we were looking forward to hearing her speak at the post-screening q&a. As news of her death spread, our screening became a very hot ticket. I raced straight from work in Long Island City to Alice Tully Hall. I was very surprised that the lobby was not busier and that I had arrived before Milton. As I waited for him, I noticed the filmmaker, Wes Anderson. I took this terrible gotcha shot and texted it to Milton.

Wes Anderson as a blue in brown shoes.

Wes Anderson as a blur in brown shoes.

At about the same time, I realized that I was at the wrong theater. I rocketed to the theater I needed to be at about a block away. When I arrived, it was the mob scene I had anticipated. Fortunately, Milton had gotten there first and had secured seats. As for Akerman’s final film, an experimental documentary about her dying, elderly mother, an Auschwitz survivor, I found it painfully dull and slept through most of the first quarter. Upon leaving, we ran into my friend, Lola, who said that she liked it. Milton asked:

Milton: What did you like about it?

This film was another misfire with us. I told Milton that it made me think about my father at the end, a difficult time in his life I never considered recording on film. Milton said:

Milton: It made me think about wanting dinner.

Even though these movies were misfires, these were all films we had wanted to see, so we don’t regret going. But the film we wanted to see most delivered. That film was Carol, a lesbian May-December romance set in the 1950s, a time when homosexuality was considered a mental illness. Phyllis Nagy brilliantly adapted Patricia Highsmith’s novel, which was essentially a road movie, for the screen. Cate Blanchett, who has never looked more alluring, plays the title character, a gorgeous but troubled cool blonde straight out of Alfred Hitchcock’s gorgeous cool blonde playbook. Rooney Mara is Therese, the shop girl and aspiring photographer, who is instantly smitten with this glamorous, charismatic, sophisticated woman twice her age. Shining just as brightly as his two perfectly cast female leads, is filmmaker, Todd Haynes. He has skillfully directed a masterpiece that is superbly shot by cinematographer, Ed Lachman, and scored by composer, Carter Burwell. Even though I had read the novel that Highsmith had published under the pseudonym, Claire Morgan, when it was originally titled The Price of Salt, almost 25 years ago, I knew the story well, but I was so elated at the film’s ending, it gave me chills. Carol is filmmaking at its finest. It is a great lesbian love story that packs an emotional wallop. It opens in the US on November 20th.

Carol q&a with from left to right, Cate Blanchett, producer Elizabeth Karlsen, Phyllis Nagy, Rooney Mara, Todd Haynes, Amy Taubin

Carol q&a (l to r), Cate Blanchett, producer Elizabeth Karlsen, Phyllis Nagy, Rooney Mara, Todd Haynes, moderator Amy Taubin

Lame Adventure 469: Opening Night at the 53rd New York Film Festival

Since I am a creature of habit, and I annually discuss the films I see at the New York Film Festival, which is like Christmas in October, here are observations from this year’s opening night festivities.

As usual, I was with my dear bud, Milton. We had not planned to attend the opening night film, The Walk, because it opens nationwide on October 9th. The Walk is based on the true story about Philippe Petit, a high-wire artist from France, who in 1974 walked the tightrope between the north and south towers of the World Trade Center. When that mind blowing event happened, we had plenty of dinner table conversation about it in my house. That took balls the size of cantaloupes, but if memory serves correct, that was not an exact quote at our dinner table, but my brother, Axel, could have said it afterward when we stepped out to walk the dog.

Tickets to the gala event screening at Alice Tully Hall cost a king’s ransom. Even more distressing was that it was not a tee shirt and sneaker-type screening. The idea of dressing formal to see a popcorn movie in 3D that is opening at every multiplex across the country in less than two weeks, rubs us wrong. Fortunately, a few days before the screening, the Film Society of Lincoln Center announced that there would be additional screenings on opening night in their more intimate surrounding theaters for the come-as-you-are types with stains on their shirts. Those tickets cost $20. Count us in!

Score!

Score!

Because the gala screening started at 6pm, while the screenings for slobs kicked off half an hour later, we realized that gave us ample time to rubberneck the red carpet ceremony outside Alice Tully Hall featuring the film’s stars. Unfortunately, a horde of autograph hounds had the same idea, creating a dense wall of humanity in front of us.

Better doors than windows.

Autograph hounds making better doors than windows.

Autograph hounds are on a mission. Basically, they’re dragon air breathing descendants of paparazzi. Milton explained that they sell the autographs they collect on line. I asked him if any of these autograph hounds had tickets to see the film. He thought that was highly unlikely. Apparently, standing behind a police barricade for hours waiting for a celebrity to pass by for a split second to sign a paper thrust aggressively in their face is their typical day at the office.

As we were waiting, Milton spotted Kate Mulgrew, who is currently appearing as Red in the Netflix series Orange is the New Black. She is not in The Walk and she didn’t register on the autograph hounds radar, either. They stood slack jawed as Milton snapped this shot of her.

Kate Mulgrew wearing red scarf.

Kate Mulgrew wearing red scarf.

When the film’s director, Robert Zemeckis, appeared, the hounds sprang into action.

Crowd surge.

Crowd surge.

He's there somewhere!

Robert Zemeckis is there somewhere!

Milton's gotcha shot proving the new adage that two cameras are better than one.

Milton’s gotcha shot proving the new adage that two cameras are better than one.

They also pounced all over actor Steve Valentine.

Steve Valentine happy to oblige.

Steve Valentine happy to oblige.

Steve Valentine working the horde.

Steve Valentine working the horde.

But they went their most bat-shit crazy when Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who stars as Philippe Petit, approached.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt about to approach the lion's den.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt about to approach the lion’s den.

What was craziest was as he was being rushed inside the theater a voice among the hounds cried out:

Autograph Hound: Joseph, please come back!

And he did!

Joseph Gordon-Levitt a.k.a. Mr. Nice Guy.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt being Mr. Nice Guy.

The film is a very entertaining story about a wildly ambitious young man with the tenacity to do something historical. Milton thought it was the best use of 3D he had ever seen in a film. At one point when Petit is learning how to walk the wire, he drops his balancing pole. Milton and I both ducked, fearing we were each about to lose an eye. Even though we knew the story well, the film packs a tremendous amount of tension and suspense. Often, I found myself squirming; I suffered so much such anxiety. Afterward, I asked Milton if he thought that Joseph Gordon-Levitt actually learned to walk a tightrope for this film.

Milton: Yes, but his wire was probably two inches off the ground and everything around him was superimposed.

Petit’s magical achievement was something that could only be accomplished in a bygone era when it was possible to plot something so audacious almost invisibly in plain sight. The film was also a wonderful tribute to the towers. Before Petit walked the tightrope between them, New Yorkers viewed them as primarily two ugly boxes, but afterward, they took on a degree of humanity and New Yorkers embraced them. The film is peppered throughout with Petit standing inside Lady Liberty’s torch, talking directly to the camera about his feat, a cheesy device that breaks the fourth wall. At first, we found that gimmick irritating, but by the very end, we realized it provided poignant punctuation.

The Walk was a perfect film to inaugurate this year’s New York Film Festival. Don’t miss seeing it in 3D when it plays the multiplex wherever you live.

Lame Adventure 468: Period of Adjustment

This is just a post for anyone who might take a nanosecond to wonder if I still have a pulse. I do. Or, at least, I had one that bounced off the sky when a creepy crawly critter skittered across my naked thigh (the perils of wearing shorts on a hot summer’s day) in the dark of a movie theater recently. Life outside the blogosphere is still very demanding. I anticipate that it will continue to be so through the months ahead on both the work front and very soon, on the home front, when those walls will come crashing down for a while compelling me to continue my disappearing act. The home front hysteria of  this year’s mania will one day be Lame Adventurized. It’s epic.

On The Grind front, I have been adapting to working in Long Island City. The commute is about ten minutes longer from my sanctum sanctorum, I’m not feeling tortured in The New Place, but I’m not in my bliss, either. Culturally, it’s very different from Manhattan’s chic and trendy Tribeca. But, the take out is cheaper when I don’t bother to pack my organic kale lunch. I like that. There’s a nearby Greek deli that makes an excellent chicken gyro. Even though my boss and colleagues have not complained, I know that when I get that gyro, unlike my usual kale, carrots and whatever else I add to that dreariness, it stinks up our entire office something fierce. Possibly, it stinks up our entire factory. With that in mind, I’ve cooled it with inhaling gyros at my desk.

As for settling in, that’s proceeding at tai chi pace. We still have mountains of stuff to slog through and shelve. It fills much of our factory space and about two thirds of our new location’s cavernous basement. It’s overwhelming. One of our sales associates thinks that the lost ark of the covenant is somewhere in there.

Some mountains of stuff.

Mountains of overwhelming.

Last week, I ventured down to that basement with my colleague, Godsend, to look for something other than the lost ark. We didn’t find what we were seeking, but I think we stumbled upon a piece of the San Andreas Fault.

"Don't step on that!"

“Godsend, don’t step on that!”

We made a quick exit to avoid antagonizing it.

We’re fairly settled in in my department’s new office space. The Boss has planted her roots; she’s shelved both her ceramic lizard and industrial sized light bulb.

Elspeth's lizard.

Elspeth’s lizard.

Elspeth's holy honking light bulb next to cup of headache pain reliever.

Elspeth’s holy honking light bulb next to cup of headache pain reliever.

I have followed her lead on a reduced scale. I placed my polished onyx alligator between my keyboard and monitor next to my favorite mystery tile.

Gator buddy.

Gator bud and don’t ask me what the thing behind it is.

Something that I could not take with me from our former location were the pigeons that perched on the sill outside my window and the mourning doves that cooed under the air conditioner. What’s outside my window now are subway trains rumbling on the elevated track and a symphony of horns honking on Queens Boulevard. Naturally, the horns honk most when I’m on the phone.

Seven train perched outside window.

The 7 train perched outside my window.

I think I might be going through something akin to bird watching withdrawal. Occasionally, I see a few when I’m waiting for the train to take me back home to Manhattan. I find the sight of a perched pigeon comforting, particularly if that pigeon is not perched on the bookcase in my sanctum sanctorum.

A pigeon perched in LIC, so close and yet so far.

A pigeon perched in LIC. So close and yet so far.

Recently, when I was home on the Upper West Side, I had this up close and personal encounter with a feathered friend.

I wish everyone well until whenever I next resurface.

Lame Adventure 467: Goodbye Manhattan

I have not been around much lately because I have been insanely busy working long hours at The Grind. One night I worked so late when I entered the subway, the car was completely empty.

Lights on, nobody home.

Lights on, nobody home.

Another night, the trains I normally take to head uptown stopped running altogether due to track work. That was supremely irritating.

My company’s 20-year lease in Tribeca is officially up tomorrow. When I was hired eleven years ago, I asked a manager how long the company’s lease was for. He laughed heartily and indicated that it was infinitely long. That guy’s long gone. I’m still there and infinity has reached its end point. Go figure.

For the past month, we have been packing up a business that’s been housed in a six story building in a picturesque, trendy neighborhood in lower Manhattan for two decades. We have tons of stuff. I think we may have miscalculated a tad the enormity of the task.

My almost packed office with Godsend's tissues atop a file box.

My almost packed office with Godsend’s tissues atop a file box.

When we’re not packing, we’re ditching. I have personally thrown out thousands of dollars worth of tile samples. I feel melancholy about that. Stu, our founder and owner, caught me looking quizzically at a piece of tile. He ordered:

Stu: Throw it out!

I have thrown out dumpster loads of tile, so much so that I ache in parts of my body that I never knew I could feel any pain. My inner Thor is not quite the brute she used to be. Physically, this is hard and I know that psychologically it’s not easy on Stu or my boss, his wife, Elspeth. Luckily, no one is too morose. The hardest moment in this ordeal was at the beginning when The Boss was bereft over losing her cat. Fortunately, the cat was never lost. She was hiding. Animals are smart. That cat knew some heavy shit was going on and she wanted nothing to do with it, but she likes to eat and sleep, so she surfaced quickly. The collective sigh of relief over that cat showing up was so loud in my department it could have registered on the Richter scale.

Sleep is so good!

Sleep is so good!

As soon as tomorrow, Tuesday, I will probably find myself working in Long Island City. That’s in Queens. The first order of business in the new location will be mega hours of unpacking. The commute will be different, the location will be different, but the people will be the same. My long-time colleague, Godsend, will continue to sit next to me. Our new building is in a desolate architecturally lacking area. There are no cool places nearby to grab a sandwich or a cupcake. No trendy bar for Godsend and I to quaff a pint at the end of the day. All I will likely want to do is head back to mainland Manhattan at warp speed. The view outside the window will be gone and so will all my pigeon pals, unless they decide to follow. I am not counting on that happening. They might be bird-brained, but they’re not idiots. They’ll take Manhattan.

"See ya! Don't wanna be ya!"

“See ya! Don’t wanna be ya!”

Lame Adventure 466: Testing My Limits

It is no secret that I am fond of pigeons. When they perch on the sill while I’m at The Grind, I welcome their visits.

Hello there!

Hello there!

I envy their freedom, their swagger and their ability to fly. The irony that they are on the outside of the bars while I’m on the inside is not lost on me. Every so often, mourning doves come around, too, like this pair that visited last month.

Mourning doves hanging out.

Mourning doves that dropped by.

Following a Sunday outing with my friend, Milton, I returned home, entered my abode and noticed that I had a guest perched on my bookshelf.

Guest inside my sanctum sanctorum.

Guest inside my sanctum sanctorum: “If I stay very, very still, I’m sure I’ll be invisible to her.”

I have been under a tremendous amount of stress in recent months. Nothing bad is going on, but I have been extremely preoccupied both at The Grind and on my own time. Two days earlier, on Friday before heading to the subway to go to The Grind, I heard a rustling sound inside my non-working fireplace.

It didn’t faze me.

As I was looking at the guest perched on my bookshelf, my first thought was:

Me: Huh. When did I get a stuffed pigeon?

Then, my guest blinked. I thought:

Me: Holy shit!

Next, I called Building Management. They were home in Brooklyn. They were unfazed, too. They told me to open the window.

Building Management: It’ll find its way out.

Me: How long might that take?

Building Management: Hit it with a broom.

Me (thinking): No way am I hitting it with a broom and risk literally scaring the crap out of it all over the place!

Me (saying): I don’t have a broom.

I have a vacuum cleaner and a whisk broom with a plastic frog handle.

Frog broom.

Frog broom.

Next, I called Milton. He laughed for five minutes straight, then advised:

Milton: Put on your rubber gloves, pick it up and throw it out the window!

Me: Are you insane? I have to climb up to it, it’s going to see me approaching, that should freak it out and then it might fly right at me. I’ll have a heart attack!

Milton: Hit it with a broom!

What is this about people wanting me to hit this poor creature with a broom? I’m not a violent person, I don’t own a broom and I would never hit it with a vacuum cleaner. It occurred to me that it had been in my apartment for three days, probably perched on that shelf the entire time, traumatized in these strange surroundings. It might have watched me ride my spin bike. Seeing me huff and puff in spandex could have traumatized it further. Had it flown around then, I would have certainly had a seizure. It is perverse to think that I had been completely oblivious to a pigeon perched inside my apartment for 72 hours.

It also occurred to me that it had not had anything to eat or drink since it flew out of the fireplace. Because I was not anticipating its visit, I didn’t have any appropriate provisions on hand: birdseed, bagel or pizza. Therefore, I was forced to improvise. I poured pellets of organic kamut, an ancient grain, and some water in a bowl. I placed the meal on a magazine outside the open window, hoping that my guest would chow down, then take the hint and fly away.

My guest didn’t stir.

So, I whistled.

My guest didn’t stir.

I clapped my hands.

My guest didn’t stir.

I shouted:

Me: Hey Birdy, look over here! Food, water, an open window!

Food, water and a Stella Artois ad to crap on, if nature calls.

Food, water and a Stella Artois ad to crap on if nature calls.

My guest didn’t stir.

I took a roll of wrapping paper and tapped it lightly on the talon.

My guest stirred big time, perched briefly on my spin bike’s handlebars and then flew behind a stack of sneaker boxes in an attempt to hide. I cleared the barricade. It was terrified and tried to press itself deeper against the wall. I felt so sorry for it. Then, a piece of a metal fan stand I have been meaning to throw out for the past two years, fell on its wing.

I nearly suffered a stroke and feared that the wing had been broken. Quickly I lifted off the fan stand. Luckily, the wing seemed okay. I was so grateful that stand did not hit it on its head.

I swooped down with gloved hands and picked it up. Pigeons are rather light. Its wings were flapping frantically. I extended my arms out the window, opened my hands and as it started to fly away, a breeze blew the cord from my blinds out the window and the pigeon got caught in the cord. I feared that the cord was strangling it, but only its wing was caught in the cord. It freed itself and flew straight to a tree across the courtyard.

Out this wide open window Birdy flew!

Out this wide open window Birdy flew! Eventually.

We both breathed an epic sigh of relief.

I have not found a single dropping. It was a considerate guest.

But I really prefer you guys perched outside.

But I really prefer you guys perched outside.

Lame Adventure 465: Here comes the Pride

Last Friday morning, I was sitting at my desk at The Grind when I noticed an alert on my iPhone.

Wow!!!!

Wow!!!!

Even though I thought the odds were good that the Supreme Court would rule in favor of same sex marriage, it still seemed remarkable. The cynic in me, which coincidentally comprises 99.9% of my being, never thought that this day would happen in my lifetime. Much to my relief I still have a pulse.

This past Sunday, I attended the Gay Pride Parade on Fifth Avenue with my friend, Milton. The atmosphere, on the heels of this historic ruling, was euphoric. Posted below are some of the more than 1,100 photographs he and I shot of the celebration.

Well said ... even if the placard was corporate sponsored.

Well said … even if the placard was corporate sponsored.

Manly cake toppers.

Manly cake toppers.

Jubilant marcher all wrapped up in the rainbow flag.

Jubilant marcher all wrapped up in the rainbow flag.

Yes, it is!

Yes, it is!

Dancing in the street and left the baseball cap at home.

Dancing in the street and left the baseball cap at home.

Togetherness.

Togetherness.

Grand marshal Sir Derek Jacobi.

Grand marshal Sir Derek Jacobi.

Grand marshal Sir Ian McKellen.

Grand marshal Sir Ian McKellen.

Lea Delaria making a grand entrance to the delight of the crowd.

Lea Delaria making a grand entrance in a vintage gas guzzler to the delight of the crowd.

Bearadonna's back!

Bearadonna’s back!

Little kid marching.

Little kid marching.

Easy rider.

Easy rider.

Easiest rider.

Easiest rider.

The perfect place and occasion to don the gay apparel.

The perfect place and occasion to don the gay apparel.

What the hell is it pride.

What the hell is it pride.

Super charged dude who slipped and fell a split second after this picture was taken. He bounced right back up.

Super charged dude who slipped and fell a split second after this picture was taken. He bounced right back up.

Hello Carmen Miranda!

Hello Carmen Miranda!

Happy faces.

Happy faces.

Got makeup?

Got makeup?

Pride shades.

Pride shades.

Love rules husbands.

Love rules husbands.

Wife & wife.

Wife & wife.

New York Police band playing "Here Comes the Bride."

New York Police band playing “Here Comes the Bride.”

Impressive tattoo.

Impressive tattoo.

What the hell is this?

What the hell is this?

Good advice.

Good advice.

US of Pride.

US of Pride.

Time to wear the golden wings.

Time to wear the golden wings.

Euphoria.

Euphoria.

High energy.

High energy.

Pride pooch.

Pride pooch.

Everyone is welcome and bring the toucan.

Everyone is welcome and bring the toucan.

Nice smiles.

Nice smiles.

Corporate sponsor Chase and an exposed breast.

Corporate sponsor Chase and an exposed breast: together at last.

One size probably does not fit all.

One size probably does not fit all.

More what the hell is it?

More what the hell is it?

Flag tossing.

Flag tossing.

Proud couple.

Proud couple.

Hitching a ride.

Hitching a ride.

Dominatrix with cellphone pride.

Dominatrix with riding crop and cellphone pride.

Waving the flag of the Republic of China.

Waving the flag of the Republic of China.

Pucker up.

Pucker up.

That time of year to wear the rainbow kilt.

That time of year to wear the rainbow kilt.

What the hell is this now?

What the hell is this now?

No so basic black attire.

Not so basic black attire.

Statement cape.

Statement cape.

Riding in style.

Riding in style.

Marchers waving flags.

Marchers waving flags.

Gay dads and their wee one.

Gay dads and their wee one.

What you see is what you get: red headdress and stilt walkers.

What you see is what you get: red headdress and stilt walkers.

Japanese Kabuki fan pride.

Japanese Kabuki fan pride.

Novel way to wear football shoulder pads.

Novel way to wear football shoulder pads.

Pride hijinks.

Pride hijinks.

Dancing in the street.

Dancing in the street.

Seriously hitched.

Seriously hitched.

Pride and joy and iced tea.

Pride and joy and iced tea.

Proud couple.

Proud couple.

Then, when it was all over, Milton and I returned to our respective sanctum sanctorums. I began writing this post and he turned on the TV news where he saw who else, but us.

Bald guy and short woman to his right: Milton and me at Pride 2015.

Bald guy and short woman clad in black in center of frame: Milton and me at Pride 2015.

The Empire State Building celebrating Pride.

The Empire State Building celebrating Pride.

Lame Adventure 464: The Power of Suggestion Written in Chalk

I was walking east along West 75th Street en route to my neighborhood market for organic kale and a carrot when I encountered a message on the sidewalk:

Good idea!

Good idea!

At that moment, my destiny seemed perfectly in line with cliché-addled sidewalk sentiment: get the kale and the carrot. Which is exactly what I did. As I was about to take my place in the supermarket check out line, a woman around fifty smiled at me in a friendly way. Then she cut in front of me. Possibly the friendly smile was a ruse to offset her stealing my place in line. Possibly she was thinking:

Place stealer: I can take this pushover.

Because I was only holding a bunch of leafy greens and a single root vegetable, as opposed to a mallet and a spear, I knew on the scale of intimidation factor with one being Caspar Milquetoast and ten, Charles Manson, I likely measured in the negative numbers. So, I didn’t bother arguing. Instead, I was thinking about fulfilling my destiny. Since I’ve held off doing this for the better part of fifty-six years, I’m going to take off about a month to work on fulfilling mine, or to catch up on power sleeping, whichever comes to me first. Meet me back here in June.