Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Air in the Square

I love inadvertently stumbling across something that is completely blogalicious.  18 months ago, before I started this blog, I would have impatiently pushed past the throng of viewers in the middle of Times Square last Thursday and headed straight to my destination.  Now, partially because I am constantly in need of new subject matter for this blog and partially because (thanks to it) I have a renewed thirst for the adventurous, I stop and check things out.  Well, most of the time, anyway.  As I walked toward my new theatre of employ (the Stephen Sondheim Theatre on 43rd), I ran straight into a looming wooden structure and equally-as-huge crowd.  I stopped to check out the hubbub and was pleasantly entertained and thrilled for the next half hour.

Last Thursday afternoon, if you didn't know, was Air In The Square, a Mega-ramp ASA Triples Event.  Don't know what that is?  Yeah, I didn't either.  So, I stopped and asked an official-looking man setting up barricades.  Turns out, it's a BMX competition.  In Times Square.  For free.  Mama like.  I scooted toward the front of the group of folks, googled, and waited for the activities to commence.  According to my trusty internet-capable phone, this series of ramps was 195 feet long and a scaled-down version of the ramp used in the X Games (and event I DID recognize).  This course, though, had an extra ramp and two 15-feet jump gaps.  Oh, and it was smooshed between 42nd and 43rd street on Broadway.  Okay, I thought, this was getting more and more interesting by the minute.

Soon, the blasted punk/alternative music began to swell and guys on too-small-looking bikes whizzed down the large ramp and did an assortment of tricks in the air over our heads.  It was, in a word, thrilling!  They soared above our heads and I was terrified when I saw one of the first contestants wipe out, but the crowd around me didn't seem too concerned.  I realized as I continued to watch that falling was a pretty normal occurrence and these guys pretty much knew how to take their spills injury-free.  A particular biker did a fabulous-looking move and I leaned toward the guy next to me and asked what it was called.  "A 360", he repiled.  Okay.  Well, it was appropriately named, anyway.  I stayed for as long as I could, ooh'ed and aah'ed along with the crowd, and reluctantly turned toward work.  I became aware that this was an experience most people would pay a lot of money for and here I was stumbling on it while heading to work.  BMX pros warming up the pavement I walk every day.  And this, folks, is one of the many reasons why I love New York.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Knitting is for . . . cats

***Warning: Adult content!  Well, kind-of.  I didn't intentionally put it in here, but there are some adult-esque quotes floating around this narrative.  Not quotes from me, though.  I can't, though, talk about my latest adventure without including them.  So, stop reading now if you don't want to know about it.  The end.***

A few days ago, my latest adventure began with the following text messages:

"Wassup.  Jst got an email abt this kewl xhibit.  I want 2 go.  U near soho?"

"Yup.  When u wanna meet?"

"30 min at Spring St Physique?"


Now, I was the first person in the above textersation (the murder of the English language facilitated by the world of texting still makes me cringe, but I, alas, must make my messages less than 160 characters like the rest of the world.) and my friend Zakiya was the second texter.  Per our vastly complex communication, we promptly met in Soho and headed toward a new art exhibit entitled (hold your ears, Mom), "Knitting is For Pu$$ies".  Yep.  And I hate to say it, but the name, in all its crassness, was partially what attracted me to the exhibit.  Also, I'm a pretty avid crocheter, so I figured that someone that shares my penchant for both crochet AND vulgarity was someone whose art I should see.  And yes, there was a lot of art to see.

The exhibit, by a female artist named Olec, was on the second floor of the Christopher Henry Gallery on Lafayette Street and, according to the man at the front desk, had been the hot spot of Soho for the past few weeks.  Alrighty, then.  Ignoring an exhibit of penciled pastel lines that I was obviously not cultured enough to appreciate, I immediately climbed the stairs to the dark second floor, made sure the coast was clear of wax figures (long story), and coerced Zakiya into joining me in what was, quite literally, a crocheted studio apartment.  Everything, and I mean everything, was crocheted.  The walls and floor were crocheted.  The windowsills and throw rugs were crocheted.  There was a crocheted sink, toilet, television, clothing rack, wardrobe, ironing board, and a crocheted man/woman sitting on the crocheted bed and pulling back his/her crocheted blanket.  Most of the yarn was semi-glow-in-the-dark, so the room took on a psychedelic quality that reminded me of a glow-in-the-dark mini golf course.  It was crazy and oddly surreal to stand in the room as the only un-crocheted beings.  I thought of the scarves I crocheted for the cast of a recent show and realized that, at the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious,  this had been an insane amount of work.  (Incidentally, I read later that the artist said she had created her impressive work while watching the Lost series on DVD from start to finish - I can relate to that).  We oohed and aahed for a few minutes.

"Um . . . Michelle?  Have you read any of this?" Zakiya asked.

No, I hadn't.  Bad Michelle.  Read the crochet and find the underlying meaning of this artist's hours and hours of toil.  There must be something she was trying to say.  I looked at the nearest inscription.

"Soul is the part of you that sees a lap dance every time you close your eyes."

What?!?!  Hold on a second.  No quotes from God?  The Dali Lama?  Confucious?

"Ur pu$$y is my soul mate."

"My mother hates Mother's Day".  
Really, Olec?  Really?  I mean, with a name like Olec, people maybe just expect you to spout wisdom like your almost-namesake Olmec from Legends of the Hidden Temple (c'mon, you know you watched that show), but did we have to go there?  Well, apparently we did.  And I've got to say that the quotes above were amongst the less vulgar.  I looked at Zakiya whose eyebrows were so far raised that they were actually creasing her normally-smooth forehead and . . . we laughed.  Heartily.  It was actually refreshing for a New York artist to so obviously take herself with an albeit very dirty grain of salt.  After reading the crocheted phrases, I felt more at home in the crocheted apartment.  Somehow, I was a little more at ease, akin to a friend telling a dirty joke at a tense dinner party.  We strolled around the apartment and looked closer at the plethora of woven objects.  As I was sitting at the desk pretending to talk on the crocheted phone, we heard a couple of women near us suddenly realize what was written around them.  Their response?  Laughter much like our own.  We smiled and headed toward the sunlit exit in gallery below.

Perhaps there was some deeper meaning I should have gleaned from the exhibit.  Perhaps there was some profound juxtaposition of the old-world crochet and the new-world verbiage that would shed light on the state of humanity today.  Or, some chick with a weird name likes to crochet dirty phrases while she watches reruns of Lost.  Whatever.  It was fun.  I figured that was what counted.  I thought of my previous textersation with Zakiya and figured Olec would have liked that idea, too.  Perhaps she would have crocheted it on a wall.