Saturday, April 18, 2009

Coney Island Daydreamin'

It was a perfect day to hit the shore. Coney Island was bustling. Ruby's Bar, which we had visited late last summer, was still open and doing business, although a large banner outfront indicated stores for rent, contact Thor Equities if you please. That was true of loads of real estate on the beach, either closed or temporarily opened pending the Thor Equities flip. Sure enough, Astroland was gone, but the Wonderwheel was twirling in the warm spring breeze and the screaming of the rollercoaster riders could be heard for miles. Sections of the boardwalk here and there are gated pending much needed repairs. We strolled all the way down to Brighton. Tatiana and Cafe Volna were doing very good business on the day before the Russian/Eastern Orthodox Easter Sunday tomorrow. Lots of happy strollers, tourists and hipsters under a gorgeous sunny blue sky, folks out on the beach already, anticipating the season of mellowing out. A bunch of guys with a variety of instruments, set up on W. 17th street, for some free-form Saturday afternoon jamming. We were there a little early, so the hypno-techno- dance scene a few blocks down, was not yet in action. And, oh yeah, the public restrooms were open and in pretty clean shape so far. The Coney Island Museum had a nice crowd hanging outside, but we didn't stop into see the sights, at least this time.

We continued past Volna and headed over to Brighton Beach Avenue. Vendors on the street were selling traditional Russian Orthodox Easter cakes and pastries. We stopped in at St. Petersburg, a fabulous Russian book, DVD, music, and souvenir shop. Judy picked up a Mareska (nesting) doll, some books on contemporary Russian Art and a groovy Russian-American Brighton Beach t-shirt. The staff at St. Petersburg were very helpful. Fabulous videos, international music, and a great selection of books, handmade household items and other "chachkas" make this a fun destination. Your intrepid reporter bought a Russian phrase book, so that I can work my way past the few words ("Where is the pharmacy" plus a few swear words)that I have picked up in the NYC multicultural maelstrom.

We stopped at a fruit and vege store to pick up a few items, and, forgetting how far we had walked, I carried a good 20 pounds of groceries back to the car on Neptune avenue. (Duh!) But all in all, a great outing.

Coney Island is a neighborhood in transition. It is going to be an interesting summer. What will the future bring? Who knows. But I do know one thing: get there before it changes even further if you want to savor a bit of the forty-deuce by the water that longer-time New Yorkers have known as our Coney Island of the mind. This little bit of Real Nature on the southern tip of Brooklyn, from the sideshow tradition to a simulacrum of Russia on a different shore, the place where all Brooklynites and New Yorkers along with visitors can freely commingle: Coney Island, like Walt Whitman, contains multitudes.

-Brookyln Beat

Last Chance: The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860-1989

Franz Kline, Painting No. 7 (1952)

Forget Citifield or the New New York Yankee Stadium,the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum hits another one completely out of the park with its "The Third Mind" exhibit. Subtitled "American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860-1989, it considers in the depth that SRGM seems to address best how the art, literature and philosophy of the East influenced new visual and conceptual languages of modern and contemporary art in America." The familiar sounding title references the "cut-ups" manuscript by William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin, and the Beats, among other art movements are at the heart of the more contemporary section of the show. But Asian art itself, along with American masters of various eras (Whistler, Pollock, Rothko, Rheinhardt, Motherwell, Mullican...and onward), are commingled front and center in this fantastic and illuminating show. The gold room of "The Death of Jamie Lee Byars" and the special, very unusual contemplative space, Dream House, by Lamonte Young and Marian Zazeela, will take you, shoeless and wonderstruck like a child, into a new space.

Using the marvelous Guggenheim design to full effect, Ann Hamilton's airy and inspiring "human carriage" fills the rotunda with gentle, green movement, Tibetan bells, and white silk, all brought into perfect harmony by the weight of cut-up books that propel the non-electric vehicle on its journey through the rotunda. Human Carriage, offers both a surprising distraction, at the same time helping to focus one's awareness on the quiet power of mind breaths and nature while contemplating the sublime artifacts created by American and Asian artists in the past two centuries. Don't miss it.

1071 Fifth Avenue (at 89th Street), NYC

The Guggenheim:

Details on the exhibition:

--Brooklyn Beat

Current Reading

  • Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War- Tony Horwitz
  • A Sultan in Palermo - Tariq Ali
  • Hitch-22: A Memoir - Christopher Hitchens
  • Negropedia- Patrice Evans
  • Dead Funny: Humor in Nazi Germany - Rudolph Herzog
  • Exile on Main Street - Robert Greenfield
  • Among the Truthers - A Journey Among America's Growing Conspiracist Underworld - Jonathan Kay
  • Paradise Lost - John Milton
  • What Is Your Dangerous Idea? Thinking the Unthinkable - John Brockman
  • Notes from the Edge Times - Daniel Pinchbeck
  • Fringe-ology: How I Can't Explain Away the Unexplainable- Steve Volk
  • Un Juif pour l'exemple (translated as A Jew Must Die )- Jacques Cheesex
  • The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
  • Pale King - David Foster Wallce
  • David Bowie: Starman bio - Paul Trynka
  • Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat - Andrez Bergen
  • The Future of Nostalgia -Svetlana Boym
  • Living in the End Times - Slavoj ZIzek
  • FIrst as Tragedy Next as Farce - Slavoj Zizek
  • How to Survive a Robot Uprising - Daniel Wilson
  • Where is My Jet Pack? -Daniel Wilson
  • Day of the Oprichniks - Vladimir Sorokin
  • Ice Trilogy - Vladimir Sorokin
  • First Civilizations
  • Oscar Wilde -Andre Maurois
  • The Beats - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • SDS - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • The Unfinished Animal - Theodore Roszak
  • Friends of Eddy Coyle
  • Brooklands -Emily Barton
  • Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahme-Smith - Entertaining and historical
  • Dictionary of the Khazars - Pavic
  • Sloth-Gilbert Hernandez
  • War and Peace- Leo Tolstoy
  • Charles Addams: An Evilution
  • Life in Ancient Greece
  • Time - Eva Hoffmann
  • Violence - S. Zizek
  • Luba - a graphic novel by Gilbert Hernandez
  • Life in Ancient Egypt
  • Great Apes - Will Self - riveting and disturbing
  • Lost Honor of Katherina Blum - Heinrich Boll - could not put it down
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed (author deserving of new wide readership)
  • Living in Ancient Mesopotomia
  • Landscape in Concrete - Jakov Lind - surreal
  • 'There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbor's Baby'-Ludmilla Petrushevskaya - creepy stories - translation feels literarily "thin"
  • Mythologies - William Butler Yeats (re-read again & again)
  • How German Is It ? - Walter Abish
  • The Book of Genesis - illustrated by R. Crumb - visionary
  • "Flags" - an illustrated encyclopedia - wish I could remember all of these. Flag culture
  • Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Ubik - Philip K. Dick
  • Nobody's Fool - Richard Russo
  • Hitler's Empire - Mark Mazower
  • Nazi Culture - various authors
  • Master Plan: Himmler 's Scholars and the Holocaust - Heather Pringle
  • Eichmann in Jerusalem - Hannah Arendt
  • Living in Ancient Rome
  • Traveling with Herodotus -R. Kapuszynsky
  • Oblivion - David Foster Wallace - Some of his greatest work
  • Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace - still wrestling with this great book
  • Netherland - Joseph O'Neill - staggeringly great read
  • Renegade - The Obama Campaign - Richard Wolffe
  • Mount Analogue - Rene Daumal
  • John Brown
  • Anathem - Neal Stephenson - love Stephenson but tough slogging first few chapters
  • 7 Deadly Sins
  • ALEX COX - Alex Cox
  • FIASCO by Thomas Ricks
  • I, Fellini - Charlotte Chandler & Federico Fellini
  • Best of 20th century alternative history fiction
  • Judah P. Benjamin - Eli Evans - Confederacy's Secretary of State & source of the W.C. Field's exclamation
  • Moscow 2042 - Vladimir Voinovich - Pre-1989 curiosity & entertaining sci fi read; love his portrayal of Solzhenitsyn-like character
  • Gomorrah - Roberto Saviano - Mafia without the It-Am sugar coating. Brutal & disturbing
  • The Sack of Rome - Celebrity+Media+Money=Silvio Berlusconi - Alexander Stille
  • Reporting - David Remnick - terrific journalism
  • Fassbinder
  • Indignation - Philip Roth
  • Rome
  • Let's Go Italy! 2008
  • Italian Phrases for Dummies
  • How to Pack
  • Violence - Slavoj Zizek
  • Dali: Painting & Film
  • The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight - Jimmy Breslin
  • The Good Rat - Jimmy Breslin
  • Spook Country - William Gibson
  • A Blue Hand - The Beats in India - Deborah Baker
  • The Metaphysical Club - Louis Menard
  • Coast of Utopia - Tom Stoppard
  • Physics of the Impossible - Dr. Michio Kaku
  • Managing the Unexpected - Weick & Sutcliffe
  • Wait Til The Midnight Hour - Writings on Black Power
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed
  • Burning Down the Masters' House - Jayson Blair
  • Howl - Allen Ginsberg
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Palace Thief - Ethan Canin
  • John Adams - David McCullough
  • The Wooden Sea - Jonathan Carroll
  • American Gangster - Mark Jacobson
  • Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Gawker Guide to Becoming King of All Media
  • Jews and Power - Ruth Wisse
  • Youth Without Youth - Mircea Eliade
  • A Team of Rivals - Doris Goodwin
  • Ghost Hunters -William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death - Deborah Blum
  • Dream -Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy - Stephen Duncombe
  • Love & Theft - Eric Lott
  • Exit Ghost - Philip Roth
  • Studio A - The Bob Dylan Reader

Current Listening

  • Alexi Murdoch Wait
  • Wilco Summer Teeth
  • Wilco The Album
  • Carmina Burana - Ray Manzarek (& Michael Riesmann)
  • Polyrock - Polyrock
  • 96 Tears - Garland Jeffries
  • Ghost of a Chance Garland Jeffries
  • Yellow Magic Orchestra
  • Mustang Sally Buddy Guy
  • John Lee Hooker
  • Black and White Years
  • Together Through Life - B. Dylan
  • 100 Days 100 Nites - Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
  • DYLAN: 3 disc Greatest...
  • Glassworks - Philip Glass
  • Wild Palms - Soundtrack -Ryuichi Sakamoto
  • Dinah Washington - Best of..
  • Commander Cody& His Lost Planet Airmen Live at Armadillo