Monday, August 31, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

Danger at Jones Beach

Could New York's next helicopter disaster be at the beach?

Two Saturdays ago was a gorgeous day for beach-going--clear, sunny, not too hot or humid. Christine and I had arrived early at the west field of Jones Beach and were about to enter the water and play in the frothy waves, when we saw an ominous sight maybe a hundred yards from shore.

A helicopter swooped down with a rope ladder dangling below, and a guy at the end of the rope. Was he looking for a swimmer in trouble--or a body? Maybe he was being trained for something, we thought, when the copter dropped him in the water, and cruised away. Then we noticed that the guy was somehow back on the ladder.

The pleasure of the day had been darkened by what we'd just witnessed, whatever it was--that copter had been way too close to shore for comfort. We watched it fly out of sight before we ventured into the waves.

A couple of hours later, the copter was back, and this time we found out what it was doing: promoting the GI Joe movie.

Pretty outrageous--scaring the public, and perhaps endangering them, at what is actually public property: Jones Beach State Park.

I hope you'll join me in urging officials in charge to ban helicopters from flying low over our beaches for any but emergency purposes.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Julie and Julia!

We all thought it was terrific--and Linda had seen it once already, on Friday afternoon with her daughter, and a much older crowd than ours.

"Funny," she said, "yesterday they didn't laugh, but they clapped more."

She saw it yet again a day or two later, with another friend--and thinks that won't be the last time.

The movie so delighted and inspired me that I decided to have some people over for dinner on Tuesday and cook some things (well, at least one thing) from The Book--a far cry from Julie's accomplishment but a signicant commitment from a rough-and-ready, down-and-dirty cook like me.

The things ended up being vichysoisse (which I'd never made before), ratatouille, and roast chicken. Despite my deficiencies in technique and deviations from the recipes (not peeling the potatoes, not degreasing or straining the sauce for the chicken, etc.), they turned out fine.

I wonder if all over the country, people who've seen The Movie are making such tribute dinners. . . .

"They should have had that book for sale in the theater lobby," Linda said. "Bet they could have sold a lot."

"But everybody who goes already has it," Jim said.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Way to Heaven . . .

. . . could be called, but losing the title's beautiful irony, Way to Hell.

Deep and indelible, it's a masterwork by Spanish playwright Juan Mayorga, inspired by the Nazis' successful efforts to mislead the Red Cross about conditions at the Theresienstadt concentration camp.

Way to Heaven opens with the anguished monologue of a former Red Cross inspector reliving his visit to the camp, now knowing he shouldn't have believed his own eyes.

Next we see the rehearsal and creation of what he saw: a play performed by camp inmates, meant to illustrate comfortable daily life in a Jewish community complete with synagogue, written by the camp's commandant and the community leader drafted by Berlin to be "mayor" of the fake town.

Moral choice and the power of theater are among the themes of this brilliant work. It casts audience members in the role of witness, and challenges us to examine what we would do--and perhaps what we will do.

Well-known abroad, Mayorga has had work produced in 18 countries, but this is his first U.S. production. I hope it's the first of many.

If you're in New York City, you can see it in an extraordinary production at the Teatro Circulo, 64 E. 4th St.

Go, if you can, on August 9, when Inge Aurerbacher, author of I am a Star: Child of the Holocaust, and survivor of Theresienstadt, will appear at a talk-back after the performance, or August 16, when the playwright will speak. It closes on August 23.

If you see it, you'll never forget it.

My Opening Weekend Vote . . .

Will be for Julie and Julia.

I'll cast it in Richmond, Virginia, where it will count more than if I were at home in New York.

Tomorrow , I'll join Jim and some other friends for an afternoon showing at the Bow Tie Movieland, a new theater housed in a historic locomotive plant.

Expecting to emerge ravenous.

What will you be voting for?

Recycling at the Park Slope Food Coop, Part III: Reward

"So you spent four dollars and two hours to do that," said Jim after I told him about my recycling adventure. Actually, it was more like slightly under four-fifty and four hours.

But I got something out of it, and not just the satisfaction of the recycling itself. I used the trip as an artist's date in Brooklyn--and a shopping opp.

My first thought was to explore some thrift stores and vintage shops, and I'd taken down a few names and addresses before embarking on my journey.

I only made it to one: Hooti Couture, 321 Flatbush at 7th Avenue, just north of the coop. I cooled off there, scanned the colorful wares, and chatted with the charming proprietor, but didn't buy anything.

Walking up Flatbush, I ventured into the New York Chess & Game Shop. It occurred to me that they might have an innovative board game I'd read about recently, which is notable for rewarding collaborative activities rather than cutthroat competition. Unfortunately I didn't remember the name. But from my vague description, they recognized The Settlers of Catan--sold out but on order.

At the triangle formed by Flatbush, Atlantic, and Pacific, I found a little community garden, densely planted, filled with delicate floral perfumes.

I had in mind to find some Middle-Eastern treats on Atlantic Avenue, but instead I found Blue Marble, and rewarded myself with a coffee and ginger ice cream cone. Only on the way out, did I learn that they use biodegradable utensils and cups for their organic ice cream.

Finally, I ended up at Trader Joe's on Atlantic Avenue, more spacious and far less crowded than the one on Union Square, and returned home laden with artichokes, coffee, cookies, humus, etc., etc.

At home, I put the big empty bag in which I'd toted my recyclables back on the chair in the kitchen, and began filling it up again.