Frosty & Frigid

It's that time of year again: the FRIGID NY Festival is taking over the Kraine Theater and UNDER St. Marks for 19 days, with 30 plays ranging from personal narratives to parodies to science comedy to the avant-garde. We will be discussing a mere four of the productions in our two dispatches from the festival, but information and tickets for all of this year's shows can be found at www.FRIGIDnewyork.info. As every year, all proceeds from tickets sales go directly to the artists. Read more »

Quote of the Week: Keith Haring

"I don't think art is propaganda; it should be something that liberates the soul, provokes the imagination and encourages people to go further. It celebrates humanity instead of manipulating it."

Keith Haring (4 May 1958 - 16 February 1990), American artist and social activist whose work responded to the New York City street culture of the 1980s by expressing concepts of birth, death, sexuality, and war.

Ring Twice For Miranda

Ring Twice for Miranda
Stage II at New York City Center
Through April 16, 2017

During Ring Twice for Miranda, while witnessing the frequent long and drawn-out arguments scenes that pepper this play’s landscape, I was reminded of Andy Warhol’s Chelsea Girls. What kept your attention during that film’s interminable arguments among Warhol’s characters was hope of some kind of satisfying resolution. Playwright Alan Hruska is by trade a litigation lawyer, so he knows how to argue. Unfortunately his characters do not share his real life expertise. I kept saying to myself “come on, get on with it!” My impatience had me physically squirming much as I did when, eons ago, I first viewed Chelsea Girls! In addition, specters of the post-apocalyptic Spike Milligan/Richard Lester film collaboration The Bed Sitting Room floated about me. Absent from Miranda’s world was the clear social satire and whimsy which sustained Mr. Milligan’s long career. Read more »

The Love that Keeps on Taking...

Let The Right One In
Moore Theatre, Seattle

Dripping from the Swedish page and screen onto American stages, The National Theatre of Scotland has adapted the celebrated horror film and novel Let The Right One In for theatrical production with an eerie success that echoes the story's previous manifestations. Wrapping up its run at Seattle's Moore Theatre before moving on to Houston, Texas, this production is spreading its paradoxically beautiful and yet starkly nihilistic brand of love story. Read more »

Steve's Favorite New Jazz Albums of 2016

Okay, it's time for me to stop trying to listen to more 2016 albums and just wrap up this list. In the past I would split my jazz list into a new releases part dedicated to current recordings and a historical part combining first releases of archival material with reissues. This year I'm skipping reissues, partly because some projects were so gargantuan that little guys like me weren't serviced with them, partly because the vinyl renaissance means everything is being reissued at once, and partly because so much stuff is just rehashing the same material in new packaging, with or without a gimmick or a little additional material added. So first releases of archival material are lumped in here. Maybe that's not entirely fair to the current guys, but on the other hand I don't include many archival items on my list. Read more »

Tania Stavreva: Rhythmic Movement

Though I am usually turned off by women musicians who tend to dress way too sexy for their roles, particularly in the classical world, I do tend, in the long run, to judge them by their ability as players. I really prefer not to have to see this underdressed ideal of womanhood because I don’t understand why it’s necessary or what it could possibly have to do with the music presented, or for that matter, their possible talent. Are they perhaps trying to sell their SEX as part of the package as an extra enticement, in case their abilities fail them?

But every now and then while listening to one of these people, trying my best not to be distracted by this seeming “shortcoming,” I am overwhelmed nonetheless by their talent. Such is the case with Tania Stavreva, who, despite her sexy luxuriating atop the piano on the jacket of her debut CD, Rhythmic Movement, proves to be a formidable and accomplished pianist/composer. Read more »

Oscar Time 2017!

The nominations have been set for the 89th Academy Awards airing on February 26th! Who will crush it? Who will slink away awaiting for their chance next time? How many even care? I know that in a world with too much useless digital information and a political climate that seems ready to implode or explode (depending on your political leanings), perhaps we all need the escapism. Read more »

Album of the Week: U.K. - U.K.

R.I.P., Mr. John Wetton, you provided many of the songs for the soundtrack of my youth with your bass playing, and vocals, in Roxy Music, King Crimson, Uriah Heap, Asia, and your debut album with the quartet U.K. embedded above. For me you reached the zenith of your artistic expression with said progressive rock super band. From 1977 until 1980, you, keyboardist/electric violinist Eddie Jobson (Curved Air, Roxy Music, Frank Zappa), guitarist Allan Holdsworth (Soft Machine, Tempest, The New Tony Williams Lifetime, Gong) through 1978, and drummer Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson, tour drummer for Genesis), who was later replaced by drummer Terry Bozzio (formerly of Frank Zappa's band). There is some tremendous Youtube footage of the reformed U,K, with Wetton, Eddie Jobson and Terry Bozzio from their 2012 world tour. No doubt King Crimson, circa 1972 - 1974, boasting guitar maestro Robert Fripp, Wetton, violinist/keyboardist David Cross and drummer Bill Bruford was a highly dynamic and impressive lineup as well. (Hey, Mr. Holdsworth was no slouch on six strings.) Listening back to U.K.'s debut prog masterpiece, it's easy to hear how from the ashes of this formidable project Asia was born. And while that was not my cup of tea, I respected Mr. Wetton's deserving success. Thank you for sharing your joy of music with the world. We hail you!

Caterwauling Towards The Light - Dusty Wright

Dusty Wright's new album Caterwauling Towards the Light is now available for digital purchase from Bandcamp (above) or from: AmazonCDbabyiTunes, plus other digital sites.

You can order an autographed CD from him direct; Paypal $12 to: puffdusty@gmail.com

And watch Dusty Wright's GIANTfingers free live webstream concert on Thursday, Feb. 2nd from 9-10pm EST. Click on this FACEBOOK link to access the show.

peace, CC

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Contemplation on Finding Babel

Brooklyn-based filmmaker David Novack has crafted an intelligent, poetic and engaging documentation of Isaac Babel’s grandson’s search for his grandfather: writer, man, Jew, Russian. This search reveals small and large stories surrounding Babel, and it encompasses Russia, Brooklyn, France, Ukraine, and more. We witness the enduring power of words, the rising power of truth. Read more »

Redrum!

Murder She Said - Curated by Thalia Vrachopoulos and Richard Vine
Anya & Andrew Shiva Gallery at John Jay College of Criminal Justice
November 15, 2016 - January 13, 2017

Am I looking at an image of a dress on the ground covered with leaves? Is it from a lover’s tryst, or is something more sinister going on, and why would I think that?

On the whole, media and society have turned darker and more aggressive as we’ve moved into the 21st century. Being besieged with nominally factual content has constrained us all to a different type of viewing, more of a true-crime voyeurism than ever -- inundated with reality or its simulacrum on television and computer screens on a daily basis, we wonder how we ended up here. When did we start needing to see unedited live-steamed reality of life’s most horrific moments? The true-crime program America’s Most Wanted premiered in 1988. I remember it well because I was studying video and art history for my undergraduate degree at Tufts -- it was hard to ignore the fact that a social boundary had been crossed when watching videos of real criminals being hunted down for horrible crimes, as well as listening to their victims and families reliving events for an audience hungry for only its most salacious details. Read more »

Fire! Fire!

The Fire This Time 10 Minute Play Festival 2017
Directed by Cezar Williams
Presented by FRIGID New York @ Horse Trade at the Kraine Theater, NYC
January 19-February 5, 2017

The annual The Fire This Time Festival was begun by artists, for artists, and its purpose is to showcase early-career playwrights of the African diaspora. Traditionally, The Fire This Time has been composed of a variety of events, with the 10 Minute Play Festival serving as the flagship, and this year, its eighth, TFTT has expanded those events beyond the strictly theatrical, including web series and readings by playwrights and sisters Kia and Kara Lee Corthron from their respective debut novels. As an anchor to the festivities (and the only event that isn't free to attend), the The 10 Minute Play Festival has consistently put forth collections of strong, exciting work, and this year's group of seven short plays, performed by a group of seven actors, is no exception. Read more »

David, Biggie & Me!

David Humphrey: I'm Glad We Had This Conversation
Fredericks & Freiser Gallery, NYC
January 19 through February 25 

I have often wondered if contemporary American artists accept the idea of a "point" in their work as being at all legitimizing. Preferring the physical presence of the work to be its own witness. Perhaps it's the legacy of the "semiotexters" in colleges and art academia. Identifying and discrediting as they go forcing 'fabulists! Like David Humphrey to dance clear of any obvious "read". Read more »

Ashes to Ashes...

Heide Hatry: Icons In Ash
UBU Gallery, NYC
Through March 7th, 2017

Heide Hatry's show at Ubu Gallery is a series of portraits made from cremated ashes based on photographs of the deceased selected by family members or loved ones who have provided her with their ash remains. These are objects made in the spirit of the Consolatio, the ancient tradition of honoring the dead and consoling the mourners. Read more »

90 Playwrights and a Nikon: Susan Johann’s “Focus on Playwrights”

"I'm the end of the line," Arthur Miller once asserted. "Absurd and appalling as it may seem, serious New York theater has died in my lifetime."

Many might argue otherwise. In fact, the best proof that theatre is still alive and kicking is Focus on Playwrights, the new coffee-table book, the cover of which showcases the life-crinkled face that once overlooked the birth of A View from the Bridge, All My Sons, and The Crucible. Yes, photographer Susan Johann’s scintillating collection of over 90 playwrights, whom she’s shot over 20 years -- and the inclusion of sharply revealing interviews with some of the same, is the best retort to anyone ready to cremate modern drama. Read more »

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