Tuesday, June 14, 2011

reminiscing, before the goodbyes

Sadly, sadly … our time in this challenging but wondrous city is coming to an end. What has to be, has to be. It’s taken me a while to absorb the idea, to come to terms with it, to be able to write about it, and, eventually, to allow the city to loosen its grip on my soul.
 And now that it’s drawing to a close, I realise there is so much about this city, and our experiences in it, that I haven’t written about. Things that are so quintessentially New York that it’s a crime not to write about them.

 Let's see …

For one, I’ve seen Katherine Zeta-Jones and the indefatiguable Angela Lansbury (85 at the time and still on Broadway!!) in “A Little Night Music”. Katherine was luminously beautiful and a surprisingly good theatre actor, her gestures subtle and her comic timing perfect. She even sang … the very difficult song “Send in the Clowns” … in a thin yet perfectly acceptable voice.

But it was Angela who had us in stitches as a crusty lady of much wealth and great acerbic wit. How she managed to memorise her very difficult lines is beyond me. That I be that sharp and bright at 70.

I’ve also seen (pass me the oxygen) Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman in “Steady Rain”, in which the entire play consisted of their characters sitting on two chairs on a sparse stage, reminiscing about their friendship and a couple of pivotal events of the past. Contrary to how it sounds, their performance was riveting. And to have two such hunks cornered in a compromised space in front of you for two hours … well, what can I say.

I’ve spotted Julianne Moore, with her lustrous strawberry hair, at the Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea where we were viewing a stunning Picasso exhibition. Obviously she was, too.

I’ve spied CNN's Piers Morgan ambling through Central Park with someone who might’ve been his wife.

 And, yes, I got my arm twisted to watch Bruce Springsteen in concert (I mean, the guy’s from New Jersey, how could I not?). I will tell you one thing: I’ve never seen so many adults acting like juvenile adolescents. Ostensibly grown-up people were on their feet, jiggling their hips and jabbing the air with their fingers in rhythm to Bruce’s choruses, bellowing his words back to him like they’d written the songs themselves. Known for his championing of the working class, Bruce clearly could do no wrong. When he threw himself off the stage, they caught him with outstretched hands and surfed him across their heads. The volume was pumped so high, the ringing in my ears drowned my own voice for a week thereafter.

 “Million Dollar Quartet” — that musical about the singular day Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis were at the same recording studio and got to play sweet rock’n’roll together? I’ve seen it twice. I’ve watched “Jersey Boys”, about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons … once. After I’d dissed “The Lion King” for years as a cartoon-like Disney-esque production (or so I thought), I went to see it. It utterly blew my mind. I cried at the sound of the black South Africans’ vocal harmonies; I was entranced by the giant elephants ambling down the aisles; I was speechless at the quirky authenticity of the puppet-manipulated springboks; I fell in love with the gangly long-necked giraffes.

I’ve even watched Daniel Radcliffe — he of the Harry Potter cult — dance, sing and act his way extremely well through the musical “How to Succeed in Business”. (Sometimes drowned out by the squealing from a crammed auditorium of highly excitable teenage girls.)

 Finally, I was privileged to experience the unbelievably psychedelic art exhibit by Fred Tomaselli at the Brooklyn Museum. This artist’s massive canvases have been turned into kaleidoscopic-coloured images of birds and spirals and Op-Art graphics using only pharmaceutical pills: aspirins, prescription drugs, anti-depressants, psychedelics — as well as pressed and dried marijuana leaves, and tiny cutouts of birds, animals and flowers from magazines. A canvas of an owl was purely created out of concentric circles of eyeball images. Hallucinatory, but supremely mesmerizing.

And on that note, that’s what New York has done to me.
Mesmerized me.

Angela Lansbury/Katherine Zeta-Jones: Accesshollywood.com
Hugh Jackman: Jollypeople.com
Daniel Craig: Hotslive.com