In the past I failed to obtain Virtual Line tickets to "Hair" and "Twelfth Night" in the park (I won "Hair" tickets one night it was pouring and got cancelled), so didn't feel optimistic when entering the lottery for the first performance of "The Bacchae." But soon after 1pm my e-mail contained a pleasant surprise - I won! People may not have been aware the new series was starting, or were deterred by the 40% chance of rain. Now I had to scramble to find a second person (though if I had to go alone, the spare ticket would be released to the standby line), and N took the other seat.
I was scared I wouldn't understand the play, but it wasn't bad and had neat special effects with fire and water. Greek drama is not really my thing ("Hair" would have been much better), but the whole theater-in-the-park experience is enjoyable. I hadn't been in the Delacorte since my sister and I got the last stand-by seats for a dance show in the '70s (and was also there to see "A Comedy of Errors" including Ted Danson and Danny DeVito in bit parts).
"The Bacchae"'s message could be interpreted as "Ick, drinking!" (Bacchus is evil), or maybe I should say, "Yay, drinking!" since if you mess with Bacchus he will harm you. Bacchus was a studly Jonathan Groff. Anthony Mackie (so good in "The Hurt Locker") was King Pentheus, and had a memorable drag scene. The large, gangly man next to me fidgeted constantly, draping himself over the railing (we were in the front row of a section) and at one point moving my purse strap away from him even though it was not in his space at all. It didn't rain.
The Jefferson Airplane was one of my favorite groups, and in the spirit of seeing people before it's too late I decided to go to the Heroes of Woodstock concert at the Nokia Theater where Jefferson Starship was on the bill. Although the ticket was "standing room" there was a large section of auditorium-style seats so I didn't have to mill around in a mosh pit. I was scared a concert with Woodstock in its name would be druggy despite NYC anti-smoking laws, and I did smell stuff but it wasn't constant so maybe there was some attempt at security. I really wish they'd enforce the laws. The other concert problem - LOUDNESS - was also there at times, but the noise-cancelling headphones adequately screened out excess buzz. I bought foam earplugs but could not get them in despite following the instructions; I'll have to try child-size or perhaps different models.
Country Joe McDonald emceed and began the show with "Gimme an F!" (hahaha) and later did the whole cheer. He had just a guitar and was really good, at comfortable volume. Big Brother and the Holding Company had Sophia Ramos as their Janis Joplin. She really worked it, but that raspy singing is not to my taste. Canned Heat did a smooth set and had more hits than I thought. Ten Years After were way loud. Their new frontman is good (and hot, as the people in back of me kept yelling); I always confused their big hit ("I'd Love to Change the World") with Led Zeppelin. The venue had a midnight curfew, and I was getting worried that everyone's long blues numbers were eating into the Jefferson Starship's time.
Country Joe did "For What It's Worth" (one of my faves) and the assembling Starship gradually joined him and they were ready to go. Paul Kantner was the only original present (sometimes Marty Balin joins them), but they also have David Freiberg from Quicksilver and their new female singer is good. They launched into "Somebody to Love," then one of my favorite more obscure songs "Other Side of This Life" and next "3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds." It was loud and I needed the headphones. It was really exciting to hear this group, even if it's not quite the original. There were a few more songs (including a long blues number), and they squeezed in "Volunteers" before midnight. The concert was available for free download to attendees and it sounds a little more ragged on re-hearing.
The next day I caught "The Inner Life of Martin Frost" at MoMA. This movie by author Paul Auster was barely released, and is an interesting semi-fantasy about writing and Muses. Then another concert: John Legend at Madison Square Garden. I wasn't sure he was big enough for the Garden but it was pretty darn full. I got a great seat on Stubhub (10th row, section 1, not cheap!), but in hindsight might have been better off farther away since it was punishingly LOUDDDDD. I still couldn't get the foam earplugs in, and the headphones only isolated the booming bassline and drums like guns in my ears. I'm still puzzled that people actually want this kind of volume. It was so distorted I sometimes didn't immediately recognize songs I knew. Sigh. Kanye West and Estelle guested (among others), but I didn't realize who they were until seeing the video later. They released balloons at the end; I caught one but decided not to shlep it home.
Other than the volume problem, Legend was really good, in great voice, smooth as silk and very sexy. The opening act was India.ARIE who crossword constructors thank regularly. I got there a few minutes after 8 and she had already started. I only knew one of her songs before, but she was good (except for the LOUD sound; sigh). She did this really cool thing with her hair (watch to the end). And on the plus side, I didn't smell any smoky substances.
It's Restaurant Week (month?) so N and I tried the special at db Bistro. I like going to upscale places I normally wouldn't try. The appetizer sounded like a quiche but was more a flatbread. I had a fish and couscous entree, and fruit and cheese plate for dessert. This was a lot of food and I couldn't finish (so you KNOW it was a lot of food, since I'm normally in the Clean Plate Club). I had time to kill before the next event, so walked to MoMA. I roamed all over the museum (including the crossword-friendly ARAD and ENSOR exhibits, and an interesting display of the possessions of a Chinese artist's mother) and sat in the sculpture garden a bit. Since I'm a member, I could do this any time. Hmmm, that's an idea. At 4pm they showed the movie "Frownland" which was strange, annoying, disturbing, about slackers with no apparent future. I'm not sure what to make of it, and several people walked out. Turns out M and D were also there. We went next door to the American Folk Art Museum (free on Fridays) which had beautiful kaleidoscope quilts.
I had written 6:30pm on my calendar for a movie screening, thinking it was "arrive 6:30, movie starts 7" so continued to dawdle, going to the ladies' room, stopping at Duane Reade to check their earplugs, and finally getting to the DGA theater for IFP's showing of "Inglourious Basterds" (what's with this spelling?). There was no line at the check-in table, and I was surprised to enter a packed theater. There are always seats in the balcony, and the movie soon started - it STARTED at 6:30. Oops. Good thing I got there just in time. The movie was very good, though violent, with just enough goofiness to offset the Nazis. Brad Pitt's character is a cornpone good ol' boy killer who manages not to be a parody.
"Mary Stuart" is closing, so I saw it on Saturday afternoon. I should have read up on English history (always a weak spot), but think I understood the plot. The acting was really good, or maybe it's just those British accents. Also closing were two plays I saw at the Theater Row complex Sunday: John Klemeyer's "Negatives" (which would have been a fine play if it just covered the family dynamics of 3 middle-aged siblings who recently lost their father - but it then takes a fascinating turn into the JFK assassination. LOVED it!) and "Sweet Storm" (maybe I was tired at the end of a long day, but while this story of 2 newlyweds in 1960 Florida had its touching moments, my mind wandered). In between the plays I saw "500 Days of Summer" which I liked a lot. I was surprised I got one of the last 6 seats in the theater, since it's been out a while.
Someone working at Theater Row recognized me and I realized it was D's girlfriend G. Small world! I had met her briefly at the tournament. They will be at Lollapuzzoola next week.