Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Andy Warhol - 30th Anniversary of His Death

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Review: "Smithereens"

If you love NYC, you love movies about NYC, especially those that depict a real-life, on the streets, brutally honest version of it.

I can't think of a better example than director Susan Seidelman's 1982 independent movie Smithereens. Set in the East Village during the dying days of punk rock, Smithereens is about a young woman, a New Jersey-transplant named Wren, who has no money, no real friends, no particular talent (musical, artistic, or otherwise) who is trying to become part of a scene that doesn't want her. She gets kicked out of her apartment, tries to hook up with a failed rock star who mostly ignores her, and toys with the affections of a young man from Montana who lives in a van. This is a story about a nobody from nowhere destined to become nothing. It's both sad and poignant, a reminder that not all stories have happy endings.  

This movie was made for almost no money and doesn't star anyone famous, but it's a fascinating look at downtown NYC at a time when the city was dirty, dangerous, and fun. It's about people living on the fringes of the city, barely surviving in a Manhattan where you still could, some way or another, afford to starve in. It's the NYC that exists today only in memory, the city some still yearn for, that others are glad is good and buried. It's also one of the earliest independent movies, made outside the studio system, launching Susan Seidelman's career (her next film was Desperately Seeking Susan that featured a young singer named Madonna), culminating in the 1990s movie renaissance with directors like Spike Lee, Steven Soderbergh, and Quentin Tarantino. 

If you liked the Coen Brothers Inside Llewin Davis, another great movie about a homeless aspiring musician (it came out in 2013 but is set in 1961 Greenwich Village), you should check out Smithereens. It'll remind you of what this city was -- and what it's still about today. 
Seidelman herself reflect on her movie in these two great interviews:

Blogging Mojo

You may have noticed that I haven't been blogging lately, and there's a reason why -- it's name is Donald Trump.

I'll admit it -- ever since the orange orangutan vaulted from tabloid joke to leader of the free world, my blogging mojo has been hammered. It's been tough to work up the enthusiasm necessary to write about the very same city that produced the man currently menacing the White House. It's like seeing something you love betray you. It's like finding out that your childhood friend became a serial killer. How NYC, the most progressive and tolerant city in America, could produce this country's first truly fascist president, is beyond me. It's a nightmare, particularly for someone who takes such pride in his hometown.

I always wanted someone from New York City to become president - just not this someone!

The good news is that, in the weeks since he became president, the Resistance has come out in full force. It's amazing to watch ordinary citizens march and protest and fight back. I never thought it would happen this quickly or this loudly. I'm doing my best, as a busy professional with two small kids, to get involved. This blog is my small part of the Resistance but I recognize it's not enough. So that part of the story is TBD.

That said, my blogging mojo has returned -- somewhat. It's coming back, slowly but surely. Stay tuned. It gonna get REAL!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Outer Boroughs Strike Back!

The mind of Donald Trump is a terrifying place -- that much is obvious considering that, ten days in, his presidency is shaping up to be one of the most horrible, destructive, dangerous, neo-fascist reigns we've ever suffered through. What makes this horrible man so horrible?

Well, here's one theory: he's a resentful B&Ter, a child of the outer boroughs who resents the "elites" and the high-falutin snobs of Manhattan, and is using the powers of the nation's highest office as a mode of payback. He's driven to hurt "those people" who look down on him, as well as "those people" who are, let's face it, not white.

I don't entirely subscribe to this theory - I'm the child of outer boroughers, I live in an outer borough, I know lots and lots and lots of outer boroughers, and none of them are anything like this gaseous horror befouling the White House. That said, there's some interesting points in this article that defends the "outer borough resentment" that fuels this man so it's worth a read.

Thankfully, here in the outer borough at JFK airport, people are protesting this man-- and being heard. Long may they continue. Short may he reign