Category Archives: new york city

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.

Lame Adventure 432: Chia What?

Over the course of the past two weeks, I watched a fair amount of US Open Tennis. I’ll come clean: I anesthetized myself on US Open Tennis. Even though I would sooner go elk hunting with a peashooter than ever attempt to swing a tennis racket myself, I derive great pleasure watching elite athletes play that game for steamer trunks of money. Tennis is my favorite reality TV programming.

Something I noticed throughout the entirety of my Open viewing was an orange Chia Pod cooler that was on center court at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Orange Chia Pod cooler on display in center court.

Orange Chia Pod cooler on display in center court.

Watching this product placement for days on end made me wonder:

Me (wondering): What is Chia Pod?

According to the US Open’s web site:

“Chia Pods are the perfect option for ready to eat nutrition, containing a full serve of chia mixed with real fruit and coconut milk. Vegan and gluten free, Chia Pods deliver 25% of your daily fiber and 100% of your daily omega-3 ALA.”

As the entire Lame Adventures readership knows as well as quantum physics, ALA is alpha-linolenic acid, but what everyone who reads Lame Adventures is likely wondering:

All Lame Adventures Readers (wondering): Are Chia Pets made out of chia?

The story of chia.

The story of chia.

Yes, chia seeds are spread all over Chia Pets.

Shortly before Serena Williams steamrolled Caroline Wozniacki in the women’s final, I was in my supermarket, Fairway. I was pondering extending my self-loathing by purchasing a sweet potato flavored organic yogurt when I noticed an array of Chia Pods in the shelf below. I thought the price, $2.99 for a six-ounce cup, redefined extortion. What an outrage; they’re charging fifty cents an ounce for a cup of seeds that can grow mossy poodles out of terracotta? Is this stuff made out of platinum or chia? Then, I noticed that it came with a charming  little orange spoon, so I changed my tune and considered purchasing an entire case. But, I decided that it might behoove me to first try a single cup of this concoction. There were so many flavors to choose from even though all I can remember is blueberry. I gravitated straight to vanilla.

Cup of Chia Pod.

Cup of Chia Pod.

Deal making chia spoon.

Deal making chia spoon.

I returned home, watched Serena annihilate Caroline and win her eighteenth grand slam tournament. Even though I stared dully at that orange Chia Pod cooler during every changeover of the match, I completely forgot to eat my edible Chia Pet, my cup of vanilla Chia Pod.

The next day, Monday, I took my Chia Pod with me to The Grind to eat for breakfast. Actually, I chased a banana with my cup of Chia Pod.

The vanilla flavor Chia Pod looked like taupe colored tapioca pudding, or if strewn across a second grader’s desk just so, vomit.

See for yourself: tapioca meets barf.

See for yourself: tapioca meets barf.

It had no discernible scent and as I ate it, I realized that it lacked any discernible flavor. The texture held a certain fascination for me. It didn’t stick to the sides of the cup and it made my mind wander in the direction of edible Teflon.

Dig in.

Dig in.

Back to the taste, it was not sweet, sour or offensive. Digging deep into my limited vocabulary, I pronounce the vanilla flavor Chia Pod a bland blob of innocuous glop. Now that we know what the Chia Pet’s first cousin tastes like, here’s the video that my colleague and collaborator, Godsend, shot of my cup of vanilla Chia Pod not exactly running over.

Lame Adventure 431: Why a Penny?

Not that long ago I was in Brooklyn, waiting for the subway to arrive, when I looked down on the platform where I saw a penny.

Look close like I did: it's there.

Look close: it’s there.

Was this my lucky penny?

My lucky penny closer.

My lucky penny closer.

Is this slender disk what it will take to turn my life around? Will it lead to an unfathomable degree of happiness with the soul mate that will desire me forever or, second choice, a solid week of good hair days?

It was dated 1974. This forty-year-old coin’s melt value is more than double its one-cent buying power. As of September 1, 2014, this penny is worth $0.0211471.

Melt-value facts.

Melt-value facts.

In another forty years, it’s conceivable that its value could double again. By 2054, it might even be worth a dime, something to look forward to when I’m 95, shrunken to the size of a walnut and speaking fluent gibberish.

So I picked up this lucky find and slipped it into my pocket. If I needed two more cents to complete a cash transaction for a toothbrush and shower shoes, but I only had this single penny on my person, would it be enough to appease the clerk without my having to toss the purchase on plastic? I could argue that my lucky penny’s value has doubled over time. If accepted, I would be reasonable and would not quibble about forfeiting the extra $0.0011471 or losing the passkey to great sex and good hair. Maybe I should rethink this …

I could put my lucky penny in the change compartment of my wallet. But I have many pressing things on my mind: US Open Tennis, pigeons, lunch. Coinage is not very aforethought. Therefore, it might behoove me to keep my lucky penny separate from my other change. In fact, I could keep it with the three pennies on my writing table and note which one it is.

My Lucky Penny with three wannabe pennies.

Look which penny is the Beyoncé in this quartet.

There are so many finds literally littering the streets of this magnificent metropolis. Do none of them pack a scintilla of magic in the luck department like a penny?

Lucky tooth cleaning implement.

Lucky tooth cleaning implement.

Lucky casino chip in asphalt.

Lucky casino chip embedded in asphalt.

Lucky glove in street.

Lucky glove in street.

Lucky dump of pistachio shells on subway platform.

Lucky dump of pistachio shells on subway platform.

Lucky crushed water bottle.

Lucky crushed water bottle.

Lucky fallen tree branch.

Lucky fallen tree branch.

Lucky peach pit in sidewalk crack.

Lucky peach pit in sidewalk crack.

Lucky coat hanger.

Lucky plastic coat hanger.

Maybe not so lucky parking ticket.

Unlucky parking ticket.

Probably everything in this cluster is landfill-bound crap. The unpaid parking ticket might even bring its unfortunate recipient a special brand of bad luck: a penalty on top of the ticket cost and having to hear Wayne Newton’s Greatest Hits in its entirety while waiting to fight the penalty on top of the ticket cost.

But what is it that makes finding a penny face up in the street lucky? If it’s heads down, leave it there or give it to someone else? Give it to whom? If it’s tainted, why pass on the taint to anyone? Re-gifting is already an epidemic. According to wiseGEEK this is nothing more than superstition and folklore. But they do point out that money symbolizes power, so that is another reason to pocket found change but leave that schnook’s parking ticket in the gutter. That’s toxic.

Pigeon feather on laundromat floor; not lucky.

Pigeon feather on laundromat floor; not lucky. Just ask the pigeon.

Lame Adventure 430: Mediocrity Cast in Terry Cloth

Possibly you’re like me: whenever you think of sculpture your mind wanders in the direction of monuments to greatness. Solid structures cast in bronze revering brilliant and usually, long dead contributors to culture, society or politics — memorials destined to withstand the test of time.

Show biz legend George M. Cohan giving his regards to Broadway.

Show biz legend George M. Cohan giving his regards to Broadway.

Monument in Riverside Park to humanitarian and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

Humanitarian and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt reflecting thoughtfully in Riverside Park.

Legendary three term New York City mayor Fiorello LaGuardia at LaGuardia Place in Greenwich Village.

Legendary three term New York City mayor Fiorello LaGuardia applauding the weather at LaGuardia Place in Greenwich Village.

Bonus sculpture: dancing farm animals I happen to like.

Bonus sculpture: dancing farm animals I happen to like.

Then, there’s the monument from one blogger, specifically Lois over at My Cruise Stories, to another, specifically me. The choice of material, terry cloth, is spot on for the blogosphere and perfect for the author of Lame Adventures. The fact that this towel sculpture is destined to withstand the test of bath time truly tickles my funny bone.

Immortalized with the greats as well as bath mats.

Immortalized with the greats and great bath mats.

Thanks Lois!

To learn how to create towel sculptures and to read Lois’ s blog about the cruise ship industry (she’s quite an entertaining authority) click here.

Lame Adventure 428: Angry Bird in the Hood

New York is a city that is well known for skyscrapers, glass, steel, concrete and asphalt, but it is also a place with significant urban wildlife. And I’m not dwelling on a dream I recently had where I lifted the lid off a garbage can in front of my apartment building and a skunk leaped out directly at me. Why my subconscious was thinking about a big, furry, livid skunk springing from a normally peaceful trash receptacle to scare the kale out of me, I can’t say. But the odor of skunk is familiar in my neighborhood, the Upper West Side. When I snapped this shot of the San Remo building while doing my laundry last week, what is not evident in the image is that there was the acrid scent of skunk permeating the warm summer air. Luckily for me, the skunk responsible for the stink chose to remain invisible. It even resisted the urge to take a flying leap in front of my lens.

Clouds or skunk vapors behind the San Remo's towers?

Clouds or skunk vapor behind the San Remo’s towers?

However, the topic of airborne urban wildlife has been weighing heavy on my mind. When I enter my Tribeca-based office in the morning at The Grind, and see a pigeon perched on the sill outside my window, I welcome that feathered sight. A bird on the sill is comforting. Its tranquil presence gives me the impression that it could be a good day.

A pigeon of peaceful presence.

A pigeon of peaceful presence.

That was until bird Angry Bird started coming around and began monopolizing the sill.

Angry Bird looking to pick a fight.

Angry Bird looking to pick a fight.

If a pigeon can be bi-polar, this is that pigeon. Of all the sills in New York City, why has this lunatic bird chosen to perch on mine?

"I like it here!"

“I like it here!”

Angry Bird is a pigeon with some serious anger management issues that lives to ruffle feathers. Angry Bird hates sharing the sill and has a mean hook with its flapping right wing.

"Get off my sill!"

Feathers flying.

If you need further proof, witness Angry Bird in action.

For the past two months Angry Bird’s bullying has diverted all the pigeons that used to sit on the sill outside my window to perch on the railing across the way.

Not troubling trouble.

Not troubling trouble.

This proves to me that bird brains are highly under rated. Pigeons may not be eager to perform stupid pet tricks, but it’s evident that the ones in Tribeca have all gotten the memo to stay away from my sill. It’s obvious that no one wants to get bitch slapped with that wild right wing.

"We like to eat a lot but we're not gluttons for punishment."

“We’re not gluttons for punishment.” (Note: shot taken before Angry Bird moved into the hood.)

My friend, Coco, thinks that Angry Bird, with its orange beak and black and white markings, might be part seagull. I think she might be onto something, but I am not going to feed that avian terrorist a piece of fish to find out. Then, it will likely never leave my sill and I’ll find myself forever grousing about this feathered foe.

"I'm feeling right at home."

“Message to everyone: stay the hell away.”