Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Thanks to an email list I'm on, today I finally got around to checking out Kickstarter--the site for connecting worthy projects of all sorts with potential supporters.

I've just begun to browse the site, and right away found one to support: the City Reliquary, a community museum in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, that preserves and displays all sorts of New York City artifacts--from geological core samples to paint chips from the L train.

If you're among the next 19 backers to pledge $5 or more, they'll send you an Authentic DSNY Street Sweeper Bristle. $50 gets you a membership.

To find this and other projects you might want to back, go to

You can visit the City Reliquary Saturday or Sunday from noon till 6 or Thursday 7-10 pm. See:

Sunday, February 21, 2010


The set consists of little more than rectangular cages that will be lockers one moment, coffins in another, with intermittent projections on three walls.

The play begins with the troubled voice of a man on tape asking for assurance that the interview will be off the record, full of doubt about whether he should be saying what he's about to say.  

But ReEntry isn't an anti-war play or an anti-war-in-Iraq play. It's about what those who fight in our wars go through, both in combat and when they return home--and why they serve.  
Culled from more than a year's worth of interviews by co-writers Emily Ackerman and KJ Sanchez (Sanchez also directed), the play tells the stories of Marines and their families, in their own words, voiced by a terrific ensemble of actors.   

Powerful, moving, and thought-provoking, this is one I won't forget anytime soon.

You have two weeks to catch it at Urban Stages, 259 W. 30

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Time for a new Oscar?

For my money ($1 in an Oscar pool), The Hurt Locker, with its powerful script, brilliant directing, fine acting and cinematography, well deserves to be named Best Picture.

But what to do about Avatar. . . . 

The Hurt Locker gets my vote for the components of which Best Pictures are usually comprised, but Avatar feels to me like another kind of Best Picture--the kind that enlarges our sense of what films can do.  

There should be a special category of Oscar for such pictures:  an award for Special Achievement in Film-making,  Boundary Breaking, something like that.

It would honor extraordinary and innovative artistic achievement in a film as a whole--in contrast to typical Special Achievement awards, a new special effect or technological breakthrough wouldn't suffice--and it wouldn't be given every year.  Foreign films and docs would be eligible, and the winner could also be chosen as Best Picture. 

I'd have given such an Oscar to Citizen Kane. 

How about you?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Snowflake Shadows

It started with the lightest of touches: tiny crystals, pinpricks of light, danced before us like part of our personal 3D movie, as we left the late show of Avatar.

The big snow that saw out January in Richmond didn't have winds forceful enough to earn the name of blizzard, nor were we exactly snowbound, but by morning there was sure a lot of it.

From upstairs windows, we watched a stuck car shimmying in the middle of the block, wheels sunk halfway into the snow, while a few yards further on, some young folks pushed a truck across its path.

It was well past noon when Jim and I finally bestirred ourselves and, fortified with French toast and fried potatoes, ventured outside, he to shovel the sidewalks and I to play.

The snow was dry, so instead of a snowman, I heaped and pressed it into a castle, which ended up looking a bit like a lopsided wedding cake ensconced in a wagon wheel. I used a stick to poke it full of windows, and stuck some twigs in it to stand for ramparts or flags.

Late in the afternoon, we tromped around the neighborhood. Amazingly, the wine store was open so we of course supported our local merchant by buying a bottle.

Down the block, even more amazingly, a placard outside Taste Buds declared it to be opening at 5. It was already 6 and the place was empty.

"We could save the soup for tomorrow," I said, "and support our local restaurant." Jim thought that would be a fine idea as long as I we went there right away, after turning off the soup, without showering or changing.

That we did, and as we walked back to Taste Buds through light but steady snow, on the road ahead we saw something neither of us remembered ever having seen before: 

Gray spots, shadows of large snowflakes, dipped and twirled, then disappeared in an instant, as the flakes landed on their bed of snow.  It felt like watching candles going out, but these were anti-candles. 

Magical, mysterious, hypnotic--they held our eyes till we stepped inside, and I missed them when they were gone.   

I wish we could have filmed them--surely someone has (Maya Deren, Stan Brakhage, Michael Snow?). Later I searched YouTube for Snowflake Shadows, but found only constructed snowflakes--mobiles and stationery and stuff.  

I'm still looking.