Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Blast from the past

I recently unearthed a post from 2006, when I had a MySpace blog. A few years ago, I foolishly erased that blog when I deleted my MySpace account, so I was pleased to find this time-capsule slice of New York life:
What have I been doing?

Yesterday I revisited my Manhattan-shrink-in-a-highrise (yes, Virginia, New York IS just like a Woody Allen movie) for the second of three "consultation" sessions wherein she decides how to place me. I wish she could just place me with her, but I suspect I can't afford her -- she's a real, live psychiatrist -- and anyway, she's suggesting analysis, not meds. Apparently the mysterious power of the analysis couch isn't that it makes you more comfortable, and thus more likely to spill your long-hidden secrets -- instead, it simply keeps you from looking at your analyst, which apparently helps you Journey Within and pluck out the really juicy Freudian fuck-ups that led you to the sorry place you are today. So that's good to know. I'm learning so much here!

Post-shrink I had a nice big salad at a kosher pizzeria with my nearly-always-visiting friend Bob; then we went to some kind of university art space to look at a design exhibit. It was on the streamlining trend that began in the '30s and clearly consumed almost everything it touched (until you've seen a streamlined iron, you haven't really lived). I astutely observed that the teardrop shape that seemed to characterize a great many of the pieces in the exhibit is also the way airplane wings look from the side, when you do a cross-section diagram thingy.
Bob and I talked about the poignant nature of retro-futuristic design, which expressed such optimism about the 21st century but whose moment, aesthetically, sort of never arrived after all (hel-LO, Space Needle!). Although a remarkable number of streamlined items -- lounge chairs, room lamps, counter/bar islands in a kitchen -- actually continue to exist in contemporary homes. So maybe the moral of the story is that the idealism of the streamlining age, like all idealism, failed to make it to the present day unscathed, but that doesn't mean it didn't exert a profound effect on the design world.

Also last night I stood outside the famous Ziegfeld Theater in the cold and wet to harass people coming out of the world premiere of "United 93," the Paul Greengrass film that recreates, in real time, the doomed 9/11 flight that crashed in a PA field after its passengers staged a revolt against the hijackers. My first NY freelance piece, about whether New Yorkers are ready for the movie (which opens wide on Friday), required me to join the radio, TV, and press people in the gated-off media pit across the street from the theater, from which frazzled-looking moviegoers -- including quite a few family members of 9/11 victims -- emerged following the 7:30 p.m. screening. An AP guy who admitted he'd rather be at home in bed -- yeah, join the club, fella -- shouted at random emerging audience members: "What'd ya think of the movie?" I met a nice lady from BBC Radio who played me back a bit of her interview with Greengrass. I think when you're interviewing the director, your need to do man-on-the-street reporting is greatly reduced. (Accordingly, she left pretty soon after the theater exodus began.)
I'd never been in a media pit before, and lordy, is it like the ones you see in the movies. Inevitably some Armani-wearing dude is fame-hungry and steps right up into the hot glare of the TV lights (yes, the lights the TV people used actually emitted heat and glared -- this is not a figure of speech) and talks and talks and talks. There were three big talkers. While one held court, I stuck my recorder-holding hand through the cloud of correspondents and paparazzi and asked my key question ("Do you think New Yorkers are ready for this movie?"). All the other media people listened for the answer, too. It was weird and magical -- and slightly parasitic, but oh well. 'Tis the nature of the media beast, I guess. My story, all 600 words of it, runs this Friday in Downtown Express.

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