It's the Tights Watch Week 4: The Culture Vulture Edition
Welcome to Tights Watch Week 4: The Culture Vulture Edition of You Are What You Read. Some of us are still committed to The Bare Leg, and some of us are weak and have caved (I’m looking at you Caroline). I am holding strong although there have been some mornings that I questioned my sanity on the walk to and from the train. So, if you picked this week as the Drop Dead week you were wrong and you are not a winner.
I will not comment on any Clown Shenanigans. I stated my position two weeks ago with the plea that this whole Clown Thing not become a Thing. And yet, this is what has happened. I promise from here on out to use my powers for only good. Good things like librarians winning the lottery. This needs to be a Thing.
Now that it’s Officially Fall it’s time to turn away from fluffy fun and get settled into some serious culture filled outings. As you know we have a really robust museum pass program where you can borrow a pass and visit the high temples of high art like MOMA, the Guggenheim or the Frick.
If the idea of an afternoon filled with Dutch masterpieces or modern art feels just too much Culture Immersion too fast, there is a park in Queens that you need to be aware of. In the Astoria Queens Socrates Sculpture Park there is a new installation by the artist Bryan Zanisnik. He has festooned the park with statues of Christopher Walken’s head. It looks a bit like Easter Island, except you don’t need a passport to visit, and the heads are smaller and you can recognize who the head is supposed to be and that is the head of the Queen’s native son who is also the star of The Deer Hunter and my personal favorite Walken film, Undertaking Betty. So delightful is this exhibition that it has spawned its own hashtag on social media which is #morecowbell. So consider spending your weekend Walken in a Park. Consider it Walken in a Walken Wonderland! You can get the 411 on that at the Huffington Post. If anyone goes, take pictures and send them in! We can all use more cowbell.
This week we have a poet, Georgia, Journalism, butterflies, Harry, disco, and a literary examination.
Playlist? We are all about Culture Vultures, not Culture Vulgarians! Of course there’s The Playlist.
Let us begin!
Tiny Tina is here from the Basement! This is a cause of great rejoice! Here’s what she’s Excited about. “Mallory says I have a weird sense of humor and maybe that’s why I’m attracted to all that is quirky; French comedies, Swedish fiction and our former Poet Laureate, Billy Collins. I was thrilled when his new book, The Rain in Portugal, arrived this week. The Hemingway quote at the beginning of the book, I think, says it all ‘For a poet he threw a very accurate milk bottle.’ As does a line from the poem Microscopic Pants –
“…like saying the ants in your pants have ants
in their pants when your more nervous than usual
because it’s fun to think of ants wearing pants,
and it rhymes. Plus, it suggests an infinite
series of tinier and tinier ants
pulling on smaller and smaller pairs of pants,
like facing barbershop mirrors
of my childhood when my newly shorn head
would repeat itself down a hallway of reflections.”
No symbolism to decipher or deep thoughts to ponder. Each poem is like a little snapshot of an ordinary moment seen through his offbeat perspective. They make me smile and sometimes laugh out loud.“
Pat T is listening. As always. “I listened to the audio book of Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead and the narrator really brought the characters to life. This story chronicles the life of Cora, who was born on a Georgia cotton plantation and abandoned by her mother at a young age. When a fellow slave, Caesar, tells Cora about the Underground Railroad, they plot their escape. Life on the run, in pursuit of their elusive dream of freedom, is fraught with danger, as slave catchers seek to return them to their original place of hell. Whitehead’s writing is descriptive and he tells a powerful and harrowing tale of the inhumane treatment of slaves during this period of American history. “
Laura is keeping it real this week. “Richard Engel’s book, And Then All Hell Broke Loose: Two Decades in the Middles East, is an energetic overview of his two decades covering the war-torn lands of the Middle East as a television news journalist. At just twenty-three years of age, newly graduated from Stanford University with only $2000 in his pocket, he flew to Cairo to freelance for Arabian news sources. He was there to report on the 1997 massacre at The Luxor Archaeological site, and that began his 20 years of reporting the shifting and volatile confrontations, bloody sieges as well as diplomatic trials that crisscrossed the Middle East. He was no stranger to the danger as he snuck across borders to interview rebel forces, was blow out of his bed from enemy rocket fire, or when he was kidnapped, held for days, not sure if he, or his cameraman, were going to survive. The book is a stirring and sobering revelation of the risks news correspondents, and their teams, take to bring us the news. “
Miss Elisabeth from the CL loves a Lady Investigator. “A Curious Beginning is the first in a new mystery series from Deanna Raybourne. I loved her Lady Julia Grey books, which were also about a female investigator in Victorian London. Miss Veronica Speedwell, the heroine of A Curious Beginning, is looking forward to a new life now that her final spinster aunt has passed away. After selling her worldly possessions, she’s ready to embark on a butterfly collection trip when she is nearly abducted in broad daylight. Rescued by a mysterious Baron, she finds herself in the midst of a giant conspiracy theory centered on the mystery of her birth. I love Veronica! She’s funny, acerbic, quick on her feet, handy with a sharpened hatpin, an expert packer, and not afraid to have a little fun with the various rugged, handsome men that grace her path. This was a fun mystery with a lot of swoon at its center. “
Kaitlin from the Rock! Always a pleasure! "Hiiii. Well, this week I picked up Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I'm a pretty big HP fan; loved the books, loved the movies and I was really looking forward to reading the play. The story takes place around where the epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows leaves off, with adult versions of Harry, Hermione, Ron, Ginny, and Draco. Harry's son, Albus, and Draco's son, Scorpius, are best friends, but don't quite fit in at Hogwarts. Albus in particular struggles with being the son of "The Boy Who Lived," and has trouble with performing magic. But then Albus and Scorpius find themselves in a very dangerous situation that could change the course of time and all of their lives. Overall, it's fun to be back in the Wizarding World, and of course it's awesome to see some of our faves adulting. I do have some issues with it though; not the greatest dialogue, play format doesn't allow for much character development, and some very key characters are missing entirely. But overall, I think it's a worthwhile read for Harry Potter fans who want to get a glimpse Harry's life as a father.“
James McNutt feeling his way across the landscape. “Not realizing I was speaking with a Whit Stillman aficionado, I complained to Larissa about Love and Friendship. I love English period pieces with their quick-witted humor and matter of fact entitlement while portraying such opulence, but something was missing from this one. While delivering my diatribe, I don’t recall getting distracted or otherwise looking away from Larissa, but from one moment to the next, she went from having nothing in her hands to having a copy of The Last Days of Disco — were we even standing in the DVD section…? As someone who has trust issues when it comes to movie recommendations and who is furthermore unfoundedly prejudiced against movies that came out more than a decade ago, it wasn’t looking good for me even watching, much less, liking it, but The Last Days of Disco has whatever Love and Friendship was missing and so much more. Having grown up in the south after the last nail was placed in the coffin of disco, I’ve always reassuringly nodded along when listening to friends reminisce of Studio 54 and the glory days of disco in Manhattan without having an inkling of idea of what they’re talking about—this happens more frequently to me than you might imagine. This film managed to give me a sort of context for understanding that ebullient glow of nostalgia that I so often see. It captures so much of the intersection of the exclusivity, privilege, intellectualism, post-sexual revolution sexuality and the resultant culture of the very early 80s. Even more than E. B. White’s Here is New York, this film has peeled back and exposed so many layers for me of what makes New York what it is today, that that weird feeling that wells up as my train nears the city is starting to make sense. Now if someone could only recommend a book or movie to help me make sense of Fairfield County in its relationship to New York and the Ivy Leagues, I might finally overcome this existential crisis.”
Alan our Leader has just finished the The Mandibles by Lionel Shriver. “Lionel Shriver is a remarkably gifted writer (award-winning as they say, and in her case it’s been serious awards) and here she tells the story of the Mandible family during the very troubled times from 2029 to 2047 when the United States has lost its preeminent place in the world order, the economy is in the tank, and social norms change radically. This is not some dystopian fantasy but a serious literary examination of the effect this has on three generations of the same family, as they struggle to understand, and respond, to their very changed circumstances. They’ve done everything right, and followed the rules we’ve all been taught, but the world has shifted violently under them, and they’re adrift. There are threads here treating intra-family relations, a changing world order, a question about whether money has any value, and the role of the government in managing our every thought and action. I was enthralled, sometimes aghast, rooting for, and against, family members as they alternately rose to the challenges and buckled under the pressure, all the while questioning what I would have done, and finally, in awe of Shriver’s skill at pulling together all the layers of this examination of the things we hold to most strongly, whose permanence we trust. I won’t trust some of them any longer.”
DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from Meat Chicken with the final musings and The Playlist. What’s good Pats? “We’ve been enjoying a longer summer here this past week and I’ve been soaking it all in. The temperature has hit 80 degrees for a few glorious days. I should be out buying mums and pulling the Halloween decorations out, but I just can’t bring myself to do it while the weather is this glorious. There are no gourds decorating my table. Instead, I am still deeply entrenched in my art travels, mostly following authors. While in Harbor Springs for the inaugural Festival of the Book, local artist, James Peery painted portraits and donated 100 percent of the sales to the festival. Of course I wanted to be a part of that! I was especially delighted when he told me that everyone would be reading the same short story, “The Artist at Work” by Camus while he painted. BRILLIANT! So I sat and read while he painted. It was a surreal experience made especially so, by patrons strolling into the gallery to look at his art and chat with him. Back home in The D, it’s time for me to get my culture fix here. I’m planning a trip to see all the newly painted murals in Eastern Market. I’ll report back next week. Until then, get your own culture on and if you happen to see Christopher Walken on a stick, tell him I said hi.”