Saturday, February 20, 2010

another day in the cities

Well today was one of those good days. The kind I like -- full of different things intersecting and a little surprise. As a preface to the cities/spaces I experienced today was a talk I attended on Thursday presented by the British architect David Adjaye. It was an interesting talk and he raised some provocative points about cultural intersections during a Q and A with Thelma Golden and the other presenters of the "Blacks in Architecture" conference.


Cityscapes upon cities...

London: I started off reading a bit about my beloved philosopher J.L. Austin after doing some creative writing yesterday. I came across this wonderful little miniseries from 1990 out of London. I'm probably one of the last literary-type people to have actually seen it: the fabulous 4 part "trilogy" House of Cards starring the great Ian Richardson.

(J.L. Austin above. h/t

(Ian Richardson via

It was fun going down memory lane (the early 1990s) and seeing such lovely subtle "face work" from Mr. Richardson. Everyone in the series was really great -- and intense! -- in their work. Totally in the moment. I was impressed. Like the other Ian I always mention, it was a fourth-wall breaking performance based on Richard III.

Lagos: I ran off to see the Broadway show Fela! as part a family outing and was blown away. It was magnificent! I saw Kevin Mambo as Fela and he turned it out! I had a chance to see the original great many, many years ago and I have to say, although there were many people on stage in the play, it was a fraction of the amout of people I rememeber seeing in Fela's actual show! The actors (at the Eugene O'Neil Theatre) took it to the hoop! Bill T and his collaborators wore it out! Dealt with the politics, Afrocentricity, the astounding music and dance, the spirituality, everything. I refused to read any reviews before seeing it -- and don't rely on them anyway. I recently saw a play with my good friend Sarah and we really didn't care for it. The mainstream reviews gave it a *rave*. Different strokes.

(Fela to the left. h/t

(Kevin Mambo h/t

I recently told a poetry colleague of mine that I like stuff that's really old and I like stuff that's really new, not as much stuff that's in the middle. (Early onset of curmudgeon, I suspect). I guess I like Mr. Richardson and Fela because they are *re* - newels of something(s) old. Of course, we're talking apples and oranges here in other respects...but one could argue that both presentations are critiques about corruptive residues of the British Empire, so there's that.

New York: When we were leaving the theater and getting into the train station, we ran into the great actor Tony Shalhoub (confirmed dork, I have seen *all* the eoisodes of "Monk" just to watch him work out as an actor) and his lovely wife, the wonderful actor Brooke Adams. Truth be told, I did not recognize her because she looks so much younger than she does on film. Tony Shalhoub looks better in real life, too. (I'm not saying they looked the opposite, of course, it's just that with all the lighting and makeup you'd think film would do them justice but it doesn't). I love New York: you just never know who you'll run into -- and to a large extent nobody cares. That's why famous people like to live here, too.

(via imdb/golden globes)

I hope seeeing Mr. Shalhoub in the streets of the city means he's going to be staying back on stage where he belongs. I mean, I like TV and film but if you've got the chops for the stage, whole other level.

Hmmm. I guess it's worthwhile going to Manhattan occassionally. Nice place to visit...



Crossing Brooklyn Ferry (excerpt)
by Walt Whitman
Flood-tide below me! I watch you face to face;
Clouds of the west! sun there half an hour high! I see you also face to face.

Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes! how curious you
are to me!
On the ferry-boats, the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning home,
are more curious to me than you suppose;
And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence, are more to me,
and more in my meditations, than you might suppose.

The impalpable sustenance of me from all things, at all hours of the day;
The simple, compact, well-join'd scheme—myself disintegrated,
every one disintegrated, yet part of the scheme:
The similitudes of the past, and those of the future;
The glories strung like beads on my smallest sights and hearings—
on the walk in the street, and the passage over the river;
The current rushing so swiftly, and swimming with me far away;
The others that are to follow me, the ties between me and them;
The certainty of others—the life, love, sight, hearing of others.

Others will enter the gates of the ferry, and cross from shore to shore;
Others will watch the run of the flood-tide;
Others will see the shipping of Manhattan north and west, and the heights
of Brooklyn to the south and east;
Others will see the islands large and small;
Fifty years hence, others will see them as they cross, the sun half an
hour high;
A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence, others will
see them,
Will enjoy the sunset, the pouring in of the flood-tide, the falling back
to the sea of the ebb-tide.

It avails not, neither time or place—distance avails not;
I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so
many generations hence;
I project myself—also I return—I am with you, and know how
it is.

Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt;
Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd;
Just as you are refresh'd by the gladness of the river and the bright flow,
I was refresh'd;
Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the swift current,
I stood, yet was hurried;
Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships, and the thick-stem'd
pipes of steamboats, I look'd.

PS! Thanks for all the well-wishes re: the Brooklyn Poet Laureate position. I was one of the three finalists. It was super, duper cool to be considered and share a bit of the limelight with Jess Greenbaum and our borough's new poetic representation, Tina Chang!

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