Sunday, August 27, 2006

harps & unicorns (and other fey ponderings)

"I used to want to play the harp when I was a kid," I admitted to Guillem.

I'd dragged him with me to see Neko Case, Martha Wainwright and Joanna Newsom at the McCarren Park Pool in Brooklyn. I hadn't warned him that Joanna Newsom plays the harp.

Guillem is not a folk fan (and she's been lumped in as part of the "Freak Folk" movement) and wasn't looking forward to hearing Ms. Newsom up on stage with her harp. It wasn't the best sort of venue for that sort of thing (standing and harp listening don't go hand-in-hand). The McCarren Park Pool is a huge, old pool that had been abandoned and only recently has been used as an outdoor concert venue. I'd been wanting to see it since I've been promoting it for a few months and the lineup of shows has been remarkable. Plus, I'd never heard Joanna Newsom live, and I never miss an opportunity to hear Neko or Martha Wainwright.

Newsom sounds like Bjork, and she plays the harp like she's Ani Difranco: It makes for a strange experience. She started out with the Decemberists tune and then launched into 20-minute long, loopy songs. Not for the faint of heart.

But back to wanting to play harp. It was a desire of mine when I was in elementary school. I just thought, what an elegant instrument. Wouldn't it be amazing to be able to make music with that thing? Of course it was most probably fueled by my obsession with fairies and unicorns and all things enchanted. I'd check out the TimeLife "Enchanted World" book collection on gnomes and fairies, read about changelings and mysterious mushroom circles where things unexplained happened. I collected fabulous glossy stickers of unicorns and would spend hours drawing them.

"How could your parents not know you were gay," Guillem asked at this revelation.

"Because they didn't know what gay was," I said. Plus, I was their first child, they had nothing to compare to, and although they didn't indulge my fey ways, it's not like they kept me from my sketches of pegasus and unicorns, or my hidden desire to be a harpist. Of course I got over the fascination with horns and rippling, muscular horse flesh. I realized how silly it was to want to play the harp.

And somehow this enchanting woman who never lost that dream is turning a generation of ironic hipsters on to an instrument that just doesn't seem to belong on a rock stage. Until now.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I admit year later

So, it's been exactly one year since P and I moved from BCN to NYC. One year. Time flies when you're...working your ass off. I'll just memorialize the past year on my own and beg off writing about it. This is it—me one year later.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

urban casualidad

This is actually coming two weeks late—go figure. Guillem moved into town two weeks ago to set up residence in the Big Apple for three months, and it's the most exciting thing to have happened in a while and I haven't written about it. He swapped his BCN apartment for one in Chelsea and is ready to take the theater world by storm. He's even set up a new blog for all his pals back home (so brush up on your catalan).

On Friday we had a little get together at his place (expecting it would be much easier to get people out to meet the guest of honor since he's so centric to the action, as opposed to us). We got an eclectic bunch of fellas, drank too much, ended up on the roof and eventually at Rawhide (a sketchy leather bar that most of us had never set foot in). So Saturday would normally have been spent recovering from all the debauchery, but I had a Fringe Festival show to get to. So I roused myself enough to get on the train and attempted to get to the theater, where I was meeting guillem, for a noon performance. I arrived 5 minutes too late and we had to forego the play.

Later I headed back into town for the first of another two plays scheduled for the evening. On the platform at 14th St., waiting for the local train, a woman approached me wondering what was up with the trains. Turns out she was an actress. An actress in a play in Fringe. An actress in a play in Fringe that Guillem was planning to see that evening (Ana 3/11) by a Spanish playwright about the Madrid train bombings. Weird coincidence.

I headed to my play Oblivious to Everyone by Jessica Lynn Johnson about a woman who is obsessed with TV, especially Paris Hilton. Afterward I walked from Tribeca, through Chinatown. As I walked along Grand St. to the Lower East Side, I felt light and happy—a feeling I haven't felt in a while—partly because the opressive heat wave had broken and the city seemed beautiful, partly because I was having alone time in the city. I realized how little "free" time I'd had in the past six months or more. How little time I'd had just to wander. As I walked up Orchard towards Delancey, I looked into the cute little shops and restaurants on the street. I walked down Ludlow and came upon a play being performed in a surface parking lot. Turns out it was an excellent production of As You Like It as part of Shakespeare in the Parking Lot. It was another of those weird serendipitous experiences that are so great about urbanity. I watched it for a while, got a call from Guillem that he was going to meet me for the last play of the evening, then headed over to Allen St. to get some $1 dumplings. We walked over to the Henry St. Settlement Theater to see Don't Ask. As we were going up the stairs I recognized the guy behind us.

"Were you on Oz?" I asked.
"Yes, I was," he said with a grin.
Later he introduced himself. "I'm Sean. Are you reviewing the show?" In fact it was Sean Dugan, the redheaded guy who played a really creepy character on the 4th-6th seasons of Oz. (He was responsible for setting Luke Perry's character on fire, as I recall.)

We actually sat next to him during the performance. It was a bit of an overdramatized bit about two soldiers in Iraq doing bad things, gay things. Not a great play, but at least the end of an interesting day here in the city.