Public art that mocks my plight

All art isn’t housed in stuffy old museums. New York is littered with public art installations.

There are two ways to get from the vile Port Authority to the Times Square subway station; you can either walk above ground down 42nd Street or you can take the underground walkway that connects the two. The tunnel is a dreary, Soviet-style passageway that’s all function and no form. It’s an avenue-long tunnel of concrete, white tile, steel I-beams and exposed florescent bulbs.

In an effort to cheer up the walk a bit, the Metropolitan Transit Authority has commissioned a series art installations (as they have in MANY subway stations throughout the city). When you walk eastward towards Seventh Avenue, as a multitude of commuters do every morning, this is the installation that greets you. It’s inspired by the classic Burma-Shave ads of the 40s where a series of sequential signs containing a word or two reveal a poem.

Remember: This is the first thing that harried commuters coming from the dark New Jersey suburbs see at 6:30 in the morning on our way to the salt mines.

11

21

31

41

51

61

71

81

I don’t know who to attribute this work to. There’s an accrediting placard on every piece of public art but I can’t find this one. On a good morning, this makes me laugh. Some mornings? Not so much.

NOT Tony Soprano. Well…just for a moment.

god+of+cSaw the very funny God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza (who I am insanely jealous of) with the dream cast of James Gandolfini, Marcia Gay Harden, Jeff Daniels and Hope Davis.

It opened back in March. Typically, a celebrity cast of this ilk would have bailed out by now because of other contractual commitments. But the four actors are having so much fun with their roles that they took August off and came back in September. It’s very unusual. They’re leaving for good in November so if you have half a mind to see it, you should do so before the new cast starts because who knows what’ll happen after that.

Marcia Gay Harden is the best. She transitioned nicely from quiet, caring Brooklyn liberal tree-hugger to raging lunatic. Gandolfini didn’t display a shred of Tony Soprano, which is a pretty neat trick considering that The Sopranos is steeped into my consciousness. There was a moment when he was yelling at Jeff Daniels and he poked his two fingers in Daniels’ direction. That simple gesture placed him firmly back in the New Jersey mob, but only for a split second.

[Note to Leah: This play is all about those annoying Park Slope yuppies and their nauseating perfect children. You and Sarge should see it.]

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Scarlett Johansson is the latest movie actor who’ll try to establish some stage credibility. (Can Gwyneth Paltrow be far behind?) This winter, Liev Schreiber (who I saw perform in a revival of Eric Bogosian’s Talk Radio and doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone) and the lovely Ms. Johansson (Women hate her. I can’t imagine why.) will revive Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge. I’ve seen that play and it’s pretty rough stuff. Liev is a longshoreman. Scarlett is his young niece. He likes her in that special way. Much trouble ensues because, as you know, it’s not polite to seduce your niece.

Look! Up in the sky!

New Yorkers always have a bit of a chuckle at the tourists who walk about the city with their heads craned up. They fall off curbs and crash into lampposts and each other. But savvy New Yorkers know that the tourists are RIGHT! There’s a spectacular show going on up there. Some of the finest architectural flourishes in the city can be found above the 40th floor.

Case in point: Take a look at the crown of this art deco masterpiece. This building is elegantly described by my good friend Artisté Florenza on her blog and is the subject of one of her beautiful paintings.

This grandly embellished piece of architecture on the corner of 51st Street and Lexington Avenue in midtown was originally called the RCA Victor building when it went up in the ’30’s. The symbols and details on the crown of the building were inspired by radio waves and it is quite a site to see.

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Is it a symptom of my advancing age to say they don’t design them with this depth of detail anymore? Click on this pic and take a good look at it. Can the polished surfaces of Frank Gehry compare to this? Nay, I say.

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The Empire State Building, that Grand Old Dame of the city, has ornamental lighting that changes almost every night. Each color scheme is a commemoration or celebration. On October 19th, I was walking by after a meditation class and saw this mess!

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I looked it up when I got home and apparently, these “Psychedelic Tie-Dye Colors” were in honor of the New York Historical Society’s Benefit for the Grateful Dead Exhibition and Archive. Are they running out of themes?

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All the street corner fruit vendors in Manhattan call you either “boss” or “my friend.” I like it.

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Cost to park in a garage on 89th Street off of Park Avenue for a bit over three hours to take The Daughter to The Metropolitan Museum of Art: $45.

Ouch. Just so you know. When you lay in a bed of roses, you’re going to get stuck with a few thorns.