Day: July 26, 2009

Chapel Hill Visitors

Mara and Diane came to visit on Saturday morning, which resulted in me being an extremely groggy hostess due to the previous night’s visit to Santos Party House.  Oddly I found myself reenacting the iternary I’d stuck to when Jon visited; we walked through Central Park to the Upper West Side, grabbed lunch at the Shake Shack (yes the Shroomburger was as amazing as I remembered, and yes I got some custard, against my better instincts) and then Mara and I trekked around the Natural History Museum.  Diane left us after lunch to meet up with a high school friend who lives in new York City.

Mara and I checked out the rocks and the marine life and the evolutionary tree trunk with the dinosaur bones and generally wore ourselves out, because the Natural History Museum is vast and labyrinthine.

Another view of the giant blue whale.
Another view of the giant blue whale.
Mara and the whale.
Mara and the whale.
Section of a giant red wood tree.
Section of a giant red wood tree.

Diane met up with us so we could all catch the new Whoopi Goldberg narrated show at the Rose Center Planetarium, which was about stars and the creation of stars and the destruction of stars and other things involving stellar astral bodies.  I mean, planetariums are cool y’all, so is space, so are stars, so is Whoopi Goldberg.

We trekked back across the park to clean up and then trekked to Hell’s Kitchen to get some thai food at Wondee Siam.  Dumplings and a salad–you’ve seen pictures of this before.  Saturday was a repeat food day y’all, sorry I cannot provide you with any new food porn.  On our way downtown I led us on a brief detour to the park to find my great aunt and uncle’s bench, which has a really beautiful, lovely inscription dedicated to them by their children and grandchildren.  Another lovely, and personal, treasure, in this city full of wonders.


We had tickets to an 8:00 show of Mary Stuart, hence the Hell’s Kitchen excursion.  Mary Stuart was written in 1800 by Friedrich Schiller, and features the showdown between Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland.  Literally, a showdown–the two women have a divalicious scene at the beginning of the first act, which is definitely fabricated because Mary and Elizabeth never actually met in person.  Elizabeth I is played by Harriet Walter and Mary Stuart is played by Janet McTeer.  I didn’t realize that the play was written in 1800s; much of the dialogue seemed really sharp and modern.  My knowledge of Mary Stuary is pretty limited, mainly to the second Elizabeth movie, but I know it involves a clash of queens and a loss of heads.  The play also threw together a bunch of men in business suits, conniving and climbing and fighting and basically being men.  The women, in contrast, were dressed in appropriate period garb, perhaps to more strongly emphasize how apart they really stood in such a male-dominated world.  Anyhow, I give major thumbs up to the this play, especially to the two leads, and to how the director really emphasized the similarities between the two women.  Perhaps in another life they could have been friends.  A neat trick of costumes brings the two women full circle–one begins where the other ends, and vice versa.  Also there is a wonderful bit of stage magic which involves rain.  Really spectacular.

Mary Stuart

The show also provided an example of the odd behavior of American audiences; namely, the tendency to laugh at scenarios that are not funny.  I first witnessed this when I saw the latest revival of Long Day’s Journey Into Night, when Philip Seymore Hoffmann drunkenly rails at Robert Sean Leonard.  Not a funny scene, not a funny play, but the audience was laughing as though it were slapstick.  The audience behaved similarly in this play, especially during the second act scenes involving the discussion of Mary Stuary’s execution.  Not funny people!  I suppose audiences laugh because they are uncomfortable but still–beheadings are not funny.  The end.

After the play, and a bit of necessary Red Mango (it does not exist in North Carolina, people, I am trying to get it while i still can) we headed down to the East Village to meet up with Phil and find some sangria.  Because we had a hankering for sangria.  We stumbled into this really adorable little cafe/hookah bar with a lovely outdoor patio called the Cloister Cafe.  I guess it is so-called because of the really odd stained glass in the cafe’s interior.

Yay friends!

Anyhow, we sated our sangria craving and enjoyed the warm summer night before heading home for much needed sleep–neither Diane, Mara, nor I had gotten much sleep Friday night.

Santos Party House

Was surprisingly disappointing.

We’re still on Friday, folks.  Yes, after Governors Island I cleaned myself up and hauled myself back into the world.  More specifically, I hauled myself down to Canal and Lafayette in Chinatown to check out Andrew W.K.’s club, Santos Party House, with a small gathering of Pine View people.

I’d been curious about Santos Party House since reading this New York Magazine article a few months ago.  Well this sounds fun, I thought to myself.  I love Andrew W.K.  I enjoy dancing.  I like the idea of a laid-back, unpretentious dance space, imbued with Andrew W.K.’s quirky-awesome all-inclusive joyful philosophy of fun for all and all for fun.

I think the publicity etc. has sort of spoiled Santos’ vibe.  We went on a Friday night, which is one of the more popular nights because Q-Tip is the DJ.  Or at least he’s supposed to be, I don’t know if he DJed after I left (which was a little bit before 2:00) but he certainly didn’t spin while I was there, he just sort of flitted about in a green shirt.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

So there was initial confusion in terms of entering Santos because the club schedule works via shows, called “parties” in Santos-speak, and there was a mess because the earlier show was overlapping.  Initially they wouldn’t let us in to even just hang out but after a bit of persuasion they let us stand at the bar for the end of the first “party.”  We were then kicked back out into the street for the later, Q-Tip party.  We re-entered the club, paid the cover, etc.  The club is split into two rooms: a downstairs lounge type area which is dark and groovy, and a really great upstairs performance area with a large stage, video monitors with installations, and a giant disco ball.


We hung out in the downstairs area, which was playing questionable R&B music, until a little before midnight (I think) where when we wandered back upstairs to see the live show which preceded supposed Q-Tip spinnage.  The first band was awful and nondescript.  The second performer, a soul singer with great hair and a better voice named Melanie Fiona, was second, and she was much loved by the crowd.  Probably because she was hot.

Q-Tip and Va$htie
Q-Tip and Va$htie
Melanie Fiona
Melanie Fiona

After Melanie Fiona actual music/dancing started.  And for the first half an hour or so the music was good.  Dancing was good.  Fun was had.  I could understand the vibe of Santos–despite the surly and unfriendly bouncers and the expensive drinks (although reasonable in terms of New York City prices) and high cover–as being super-fun and all-inclusive and in the vein of the neon-colored signs Andrew W.K. posts around the club encouraging dance and joy and drinking and fun.  For a brief period of time, all was well.





A break-dance circle even happened, which was more fun than it sounds. We also did the Apache, which was definitely was more fun than it sounds.



It was all downhill from there, alas.  The club got too crowded, to the point where I couldn’t even dance because I kept getting jostled by pushy hipster girls with horrible hair cuts and large men with questionable intentions.  The music got repetitive and boring, and became entirely not-danceable.  Also, it got hot.  And crowded.  And boring.  Really, more than anything, it was boring.  Which, you never want a club to be boring.  So a little before 2:00 I left.  There was a line outside the club, a long line, and it would probably just get longer.  Maybe Q-Tip started spinning after I left?  Maybe that made it better?  Either way, I’d be willing to check out Santos on another night (not-Fridays have rotational “parties,” including less-known artists and even performance pieces) but I think Friday night at Santos + Lindsay = Failure.

Or maybe I’m just getting old and boring myself.  Who knows.

Journey to Governors Island

Friday I decided to head out to Governors Island, the little island/former military outpost off the southern tip of Manhattan that has been transformed into a park.  You can reach said island by a free ferry that leaves from port adjacent to the Staten Island Ferry terminal.  The island is open Friday-Sunday during the summer, though there has been talk of opening the park for the whole week in future summers.  Governors Island has really exploded in popularity this summer–New York Magazine article and everything (because evidently New York Magazine is atop the zeitgeist; the New York Times, I have found, usually publishes a similar article a week or two after New York Magazine).

I got downtown a little before 1:00 (ferries were running to Governors Island every hour on Friday, they run more frequently on Saturday and Sunday) intending to catch the 1:00 ferry.  However, all the construction they are doing around the Staten Island Ferry really confused me, so I ended up missing the 1:00 ferry.  I decided to grab some lunch from a Halal food cart and picnic in Battery Park.  I learned, by the way, that not all Halal carts all the same.  The one in Chelsea near the Whitney storage was way better than this financial district cart, which had bland, under-spiced food.  Sadface.  Still. Battery Park was lovely, aside from all the tourists and the finance-douchebags smoking their cigars (I saw a number of these men, I assume they all suck);  lovely views of the waterfront and the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Street Meat Fail
Street Meat Fail




I successfully caught the 2:00 ferry to Governors Island and within ten minutes was on dry land, across the water from Manhattan but thousands of worlds away.  The island still has the buildings from the military days: old abandoned 1920s houses, fortresses built in the 1800s, old hospitals and mess halls and even a theater.  Many of these buildings are open to the public.  The park is free to wander; you can rent bikes or stroll at your leisure.  Most of the accessible buildings and ground are concentrated at one end–I didn’t get to the opposite end, with Picnic Point, because they had closed that section down by the time I thought to walk there.  Evidently it has glorious views of the Statue of Liberty.  The middle of that section of the park should be open within the next few years.  For now it is only accessible by the 2.2 mile promenade that circumferences the park proper.

The central fort.
The central fort.
Inside the central fort thinger.
Inside the central fort thinger.


The park has many art installations, including a house in Nolan Park (an area with all yellow houses where I believe officers lived; regardless it was pretty) which was filled with sculpture, including a shell sculpture on the outside.

The Sculpture House
The Sculpture House




Many of the buildings also held art installations sponsored by the group Creative Time.  All of these installations, made by numerous artists, were collected under the title Plot 0/9 This World and Nearer Ones.  I didn’t track down all of the art works (there are probably fifteen to twenty works, scattered over the entirety of the park) but I saw some video work, including a ridiculous film by The Bruce High Quality Foundation that spoke of the demise of the art market in the language of a zombie movie with some help from the song “Summer of ’69.”  This was shown in the actual movie theatre, which is abandoned and dark and scary, so that worked, but I’m not sure if the film itself did.


More successful was Anthony McCall’s really spectacular light installation, set in the pitch blackness of St. Corenlius Chapel.  The entrance into the darkness is unsettling, but the installation itself is really astounding and almost sculptural, and seems to give substance to that which has no structure: light itself.

St. Cornelius Chapel
St. Cornelius Chapel


A lot of the works I didn’t even realize were part of the Creative Time installation until after my visit.  These were things I noticed as odd but didn’t think to pursue, such as the fact that the words “Sheep” and “Goats” are written on the ferry, or a message painted alongside the Manhattan port from where the ferry departs.  A tent city near the old hospital also aroused my attention, but I figured it was probably set up for some of the workers on the island.  False: it was an installation by Nils Norman.  Many of the installations were like this, subtle, and blending into the surroundings, such as Klaus Weber’s giant wind chime.


Anyhow, the Creative Time project brought an extra sense of whimsy to the island.  For a complete list of the artists and works go here.

Little, non-Creative Time art surprises are all over the island.



Behind Ligett Hall in the center of the island was a field called City of Dreams, which was filled with art installations by the group Figment, including a crazy mini-golf course made from junk.  Seriously!  It was pretty rad, and there were tons of kids running around being, well, kids.  One half of said field was filled with sculpture, the other half held the mini-golf course.







Also on the island, near the dock, is a beach shack type place called Water Taxi Beach. Said beach includes sand, picnic tables, beer, hot dogs, burgers, etc.  I believe later on in the summer there will also be music events at Water Taxi Beach.



Anyhow, that more or less sums up my day on Governors Island.  Two thumbs up for an odd, whimsy, ghost-town-yet-not-scary-feeling island just off the tip of Manhattan.  A few more pictures, because I can:




Oh, also, I got a bagel when I got back to the Upper East Side, from Tal Bagels on Lexington near 80th.  The bagel was decent, and filled with hummus, though it probably would have been better had I eaten it at the store rather than walking home.

Yes I put hummus on an Everything bagel.  No that isn't weird at all.  Shut up.
Yes I put hummus on an Everything bagel. No that isn't weird at all. Shut up.

I know I am way behind schedule and I know this post was long and I’d like to say future posts won’t be as long but that’d be a lie.  I have company in town now so I am trying to catch up as best as possible, but sometimes you have to play hostess!  And sometimes you don’t, like when said friends are content browsing the Met.  All it well.