Sunday, September 17, 2017

nyc date night with mom

My mom is in town so I took her to a party at NYU's Skirball called "Aunts Is Dance", a free event, with several dance performances and a Free Boutique. The idea of the Free Boutique is that you bring something to the party to give away, and in return you shop among the other things people have contributed. It's a great idea. I forgot to bring something to add to the boutique, so I ran around SoHo until I came across the Magic shop, went in and bought several 7 sided magic dice and a pack of Magic cards to add to the mix. 

On the way back to the theater I stopped to get a coffee. The barista had her back to me as I approached the counter. Then she spun around in a dramatic manner, put her chin on her hand and said, "What can I do for you, fine sir?" I said, "Wow, that's the best greeting by a barista I've ever gotten." She said, "I do what I can. I'm a professional." As a tip I gave her one of the 7-sided dice I bought. She said, "I always wanted one of these! Can I give you a hug?" Sure, so she came around the corner and gave me a big hug. "Sugar for my coffee," I said. Then the other barista, watching the whole thing, came out and gave me a card for a free coffee. Score.

I went back to the Free Boutique and picked out a gift for Gen and the girls, then we went into the space. 

The first dance performance we saw was a naked woman in a superman flying position across the bottom rungs of a ladder. It was such an elegantly beautiful arrangement that it took a moment to take in the piece's implications. She continued to work her way around the ladder and strike poses in a sculptural and evocative way.

There were several other performances in this vein around the lobby and basement of the theater, but you couldn't go into the main theater itself. On the walls were monitors showing the performance inside the theater, a lone woman dancing on the stage, to an empty audience. We were all watching her from the lobby. 

After the performances DJ br0nz3 g0dd3ss came out and everyone danced, we were inspired. 

IFC was around the corner so we went to see a movie, "Columbus," a film about architecture and family relationships, among other things, set in in Columbus, Indiana. It was so good that it made me fall in love with cinema all over again, the way great cinema can make you fall in love with life. There was just one sublime moment after another. Definitely see it on the big screen if you get a chance.  

Finally we wrapped the night up by sharing a midnight Ramen and Sapporo at a local joint. My mom had never had Ramen before. She loved it. 

A great date night with mom.  

Thursday, September 7, 2017


Good first day of teaching at LaGuardia Community College. 30 or more kids waiting behind each elevator when I got there, so I took the stairs. Huge building, halls that seemed to go on forever.

Good kids. Queenstastic mix of African, Indian, Nepalese, French, Filipino.  Attentive, soft spoken. And my hearing's shot too, so I had to ask them to repeat themselves a lot. It was kind of comic, especially when I would misunderstand them. "Did you say you liked Coldplay?"  "Noooo. Opia!"

I asked them their favorite movies, books and music. Half of the movies I knew. Maybe quarter of the music artists. And most of them did not have a single book they liked, or else they spouted something they were made to read in HS. Most of these kids don't read books.

Lord of the Flies came up as one woman's favorite book and I asked her if she bought the premise. She said, "It could happen." She mentioned the controversy surrounding the new adaptation, explained the book is meant to be a criticism of masculinity, but the boy roles are all played by girls in the adaptation, so it's not true to the book. Then I asked if the gender switch was conceived by a man, and she said yes. "Sounds like maybe the dude's got issues?"  Good discussion.

Another student said he only read articles. Like what? "Like recently an article on DACA." A hot button topic. My guess is a few of these kids are personally affected. "And on Irma too." We talked about the hurricane that was, as we spoke, devastating the Carribbean, how it is the largest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded. One student spoke up and said, "There are two hurricanes behind that one too." Again, I had the sense that more than one student had families that were being affected. There was a moment of tense and solemn silence in the room.

After introductions I had them write a Golden Shovel poem, Terrance Hayes' invented form named after a Gwendowlyn Brooks line, wherein he takes a short poem and embeds each successive word into the last line of a new poem.  I used the Brooks poem the form was named after, "The Pool Players. Seven at the Golden Shovel." I look forward to reading them.

Then we read and discussed Hayes' own Golden Shovel of the same poem, which lead to, among other things, a discussion of the terms "catharsis" and "synaesthesia," which none of the students had heard of before.

As I was writing the poem on the board, with my terrible handwriting, I told (myself) them the story of serving Muhammad Ali roomservice and how he showed his greatness by taking a full minute to perfectly sign his check with hands shaking from Parkinson's disease. How I was still learning that lesson. Badly.

Finally I gave them their assignment, to pick a song they like that seems to say something important and write 5 or 6 sentences about what the song is saying, what it means, trying to locate an argument if they can.

Not that you asked.

I had them

Students super polite and listening. My hearing is worse.