Sunday, March 27, 2005

No, Meester Bond, We Are Going To Harlem

Yes, we know it has been a few days, but we have been slightly busy. But we shall make up with a culture bomb flecked with moments of high drama and weirdness. The lack of posting is a factor of the volume of culture imbibed, and is also a factor of the home office being occupied. So, with this guest in tow, we unleash the cultchah.

First, the hop-skip to the Brooklyn Museum, which is doing one of the first comprehensive Basquiat shows ever. Basquiat has drifted through our consciousness as a hip-hop pioneer, and for the extraordinary scene in his movie where he creates art on the table in a diner with food, but without using any kind of plate at all. Which just shows that he hadn't graduated to ice cream, in our humble opinion. That'll learn you to Create On the Plate every time.

The art? The same space (roughly), inhabited by Jackson Pollock, one where you can delight in the formlessness, aware that you have to do much more of the interpreting, maybe losing a philistine, or the less patient, on the way. Do we have to talk about it? Can we not talk about how he was Brooklyn-born (one of the reasons we like to count the Bronx out of the birthplace of rap arguments), a junior member of the very same museum? How he maintained a level of skag consumption that would have felled a Ray Charles?

We'll take it from the curator that he was a skilled master of composition, and assume our eyes just can't be led. We did like the sprawling wordy meditations on wide themes, with words to the front. Our favourite work was probably Jawbone Of An Ass, if only for the exuberant name-checks of generals from the Punic Wars. We settled, merch-wise for Eyes And Eggs, because, and we appreciate we might have the cart before the horse here. we think that it reminds us of what Ralph Steadman might have done with less distinguished, and less unpleasant, subjects, had he a bit more compassion. Which is odd, because Basquiat's more text-heavy paitings reminded us of Steadman collaborator Hunter S Thompson's epigramatic tics. Eyes And Eggs is also one of his most straightforward compositions.

You've probably forgotten the mention of the Punic Wars, which is a pity, because it's a wicked-ass segue into the fun of the evening, a performance of Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? featuring Kathleen Turner. Set in fictional New Carthage, ya see. Poor George (Bill Irwin, married to Turner's Martha) self-deprecatingly dates his youth to the Punic Wars. Organised around a series of notional elephants in the room (OK, we're reaching). Anyway, our failing here is almost the opposite of our troubles taking in Basquiat - we're far more impressed by the artistry, the zingers, the banter, the lurid interplay, than in working out why they behave in this monstrous fashion. Yes, we know that the game is to be played, but also to explain why the game is being played. We can't help but think that badminton would have saved them. Special props to the kids, David Harbour as Nick and Mireille Enos as Honey, who don't have anywhere near as good lines (actually, Honey has some fun ones, almost as charming a drunk as we are). Kathleen Turner received many claps, which isn't surprsing since she was almmost as evil as her character in Serial Mom

So, we spill out onto Broadway, miss the Hersheys store being open, and witness a fire above Ruby Foo's (mysteriously absent from the news this morning), and clamber with two companions (one of the Cutesome genus) into an innocuous-looking minivan yellow taxi.

And stumble across the most cranky and sleep-deprived loon ever to gain a hack's license. We're a bit vague on the law covering using the internet to accuse cab drivers of crimes, so we shall refrain from putting his number up here. Besides, we're still a little bit frightened. And may want to see his ass up on a charge. So we'll call him Al, because that was all we could see of his license card.

Al doesn't want to go to Brooklyn. We know, it sucks, but we'd hardly asked him to go to Carnarsie, and we usually tip reasonably well. He doesn't want to take the Manhattan Bridge. We understand, the double parking outside Junior's is awful. What we're looking for is a coherent justification for him scooping up the 4-buck premium for taking the FDR, a longer, but swifter route, much prized by Brooklyn-bound cabbies. Not "the bridge is closed" (it never is - the cockroaches will use it to flee Long Island when the Rapture is upon us). Certainly not a screaming fit saying we can't order him to take a stupid route, and that we should just get another cab. We'd love to, but it's 10.45 in Times Square, and this monkeyclown is gold dust.

He makes a last-ditch attempt to persuade us to get out, swerving wildly onto 42nd, throwing us forward in our seats, and disturbing the cabbie coming up 42nd in the other direction. Starts screaming that it was an honest mistake. We think of asking whether he would consider letting us out gratis. But decide that this is exciting. Which thereafter it isn't, aside from a bit of joshing to get on to the mighty Ari Halberstam offramp from the FDR to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Al takes the directions to the Slope reasonably well, maybe hoping that we will forget about the earlier nutjob episode. We don't, we're getting dropped off round the corner. We pay him, give him a buck, easily within the insulting range. He starts to explain that there was no way he was going to take second avenue to the Manhattan Bridge. We replied that we didn't tell him to take any route, and we didn't like the whole nearly-crashing to make an obscure anti-Brooklyn point. At which point he locks the doors on us. We've seen this in Bond movies. Don't have a PPK, or a lead shoe. So we start shouting, at which point he gets out, pretends that the child-lock acts a bit funny, and lets us out, which given how fifth avenue in Brooklyn now has a bustling cafe scene even at 11.30, he has little choice but to do. We bid him good night, even wishing him to sleep well, by mentioning his license number repeatedly.

That's craziness for you - some of us realise that that playing crazy and being crazy are hard to separate. But even fewer of us can turn it off once its started. Selah. Next week will be rather light. There's a new dawn coming in niche financial publishing, trust us.


Post a Comment

<< Home