Nomad Ink

Sunday, January 24, 2010

time to catch up

Dear me, it's been almost a year? I keep forgetting my password and I just figured out how to get a new one. Duh.
I'm being a culture vulture in NYC interspersed with days of loneliness, traditional (i'm told) beginning-sabbatical depression (the transition to unstructured time), and lovely long walks throughout the Queens neighborhoods of Sunnyside, Astoria, Woodside, and so forth. I bared my brains under the El for a few hours the other day and traversed miles of pigeon-shit bespeckled sidewalk, smelling the fabulous smells of burning sugar and frying meat all along roosevelt avenue and digging the splashes of color from the sidewalk displays of the grocery and 99¢-&-up stores.

Went to the Tuli Kupferberg benefit at St. Anne's Warehouse on Friday eve, with Eddie and couple of his friends, Ardele and Liss. The benefit was my kind of thing, homey and warm, with raw edges (lots of time between the sets to switch equipment, etc) and a high level of artistry. Kind of like when I went to the Vision Festival in the 1990s, it was all these world-class musicians performing at ear-splitting volume in a church basement that still had a shred of tinsel from the Christmas pageant draped over the curtain cable overhead, even though it was Memorial Day weekend. Anyway, the highlights were the Fugs, Peter Stampfel (of the late great Holy Modal Rounders, whom I remember listening to at night as a teen on Boston's "underground" radio station, WBCN and chuckling over "Boobs a Lot." He sang "Dook of the Beats," and I was chuckling along. Flutterbox was new to me, and great. Jolie Holland was uneven: first song powerful, second incomprehensible. John Hall, whom i'd just seen at the PoProj benefit marathon, was great but a bit over-amped. Laurie Anderson/John Zorn/Lou Reed were good but went on too long. Trance music. Melodic at times but mostly not. I liked it when they all played the same note at the same time. Gary Lucas powerful. Sonic Youth, again, first song great, second okay but not great. Who really cares. It was a benefit for the guy "who jumped off Brooklyn Bridge this actually happened and walked away unknown..." or something like that. He didn't really walk away. He spend months in a body cast. So don't try this at home. There was a lot of love there, and I picked up a copy of Tuli's Teach Yourself Fucking and a commemorative t-shirt, since all the proceeds go to him. Shame on our health care system (and can i tell you how mortified I am on behalf of my home-state Massachusetts?), that the assembled efforts of the evening probably covered one minor "procedure" or one day of care, but it gave us an excuse to get together and experience art .

Eddie was getting uncomfortable (cramped seats) and the luminaries were fading, so we left but it was a wonderful evening just the way i like it: homey, unpretentious and full of uneven bursts of brilliance and talent.

Last night went to see Foofwa, Alan Sondheim and Azure Carter at New Dance Amsterdam, yet another overlapping but sufficiently-unfamiliar world. Again, homy feel of folks who know each other, combined with superamazing artistry. I know Alan as an internet theorist and poet, so it was exhilerating to see yet another side of his polymathic creativity: he played a range of unusual (except for one guitar) string instruments (strong instruments) while Foofwa danced and Azure sang. I'm not a dance person so i have no vocabulary for describing what I saw except to say it stimulated my brain and body; Foofwa is like the Iggy Pop of dance (intensity, channeling intense masculine energy) which from me is a high compliment. I loved his quote from John Cage: "I decided to not make choices but to ask questions." Too bad I left my I Ching in Minnesota. The audience was super-responsive and loved the show. As far as I cd tell.

I went earlier in the week to a screening of Howl, Rob Epstein and Jeff Friedman's encomium to everybody's hero Allen G. James Franco was really excellent; not since his James Dean do I think he's had a role so worthy of his talents. (Not that i've seen all his films.) He caught Allen's vocal inflections and gestures, at least from when he was older. I don't know if he did that pedagogical thing with his finger as a younger man, but it resonated with the Allen I knew.

The night before, I went to Nada Gordon's bday party. That was really lovely. Nada looked like a glamorous cream puff. It was fun to see folks, again, a nice homy (that's "homey," not "horny") group of sharp folks it's a balm to be around.
Also nice to see so much of Walter Lew, my in-and-out host here in Queens, and walk around the nabe with him yakkety-yakking.
Ok i'm exhausted. Good to be back, y'all.


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