A dad and his daughters, loving life in New York City

Wednesday, May 24


it was BIG night for scoboco: the world premiere of "panacea: an original musical about trust, betrayal and hope" running from now until... well, until tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.. a limited run, sure, but definitely one of the most original, heartfelt, lump-in-the-throat theatrical experiences of my life.ok, this was bo's sixth-grade play, which the kids wrote, directed, set designed, choreographed, starred in. the plot takes us from elizabethan england to a not-too-distant future of "the world federation," and back and forth and back and forth. in both eras, whole populations are being wiped out by the plague; leaders in both eras seek out a quick cure--a panacea--when a sorceress in each leads them to the unicorn's horn and the narwhal's tooth, respectively; in both eras everyone learns that that while there may not be a magic cure, a solution can be found if we keep our hope, and work together. SO beautiful!!!

the songs were really impressive, especially the big production numbers. the english accents were totally endearing. the cosumes were amazing. the energy on stage was HUGE. and the whole thing came in at a tidy one hour, five minutes running time. it was a wonderful night.

i'm so proud of you little bo, and i love you very much.

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Monday, May 22

mymix 5.22

i make a new on-the-go mix just about every morning. here's what i'm listening to, shuffled, today...

gnarls barkley: crazy*
secret machines: lightening blue eyes
neko case: star witness
built to spill: conventional wisdom
mates of state: fraud in the 80s
the walkmen: wake up
the strokes: evening sun
sonic youth: tunic (song for karen)**
rancid: radio havana
interpol: c'mere
gnarls barkley: smiley faces
grandaddy: a.m. 180
50 cent/mobb deep: have a party
red hot chili peppers: snow (hey oh)***
the rakes: open book
babyshambles: fuck forever
mobius strip: the loving sounds of static
bloc party: like eating glass
arctic monkeys: fake tales of san francisco

* right now i could listen to this song for 25 minutes non-stop and be happy
** hearing this today reminded me that if you can't get tickets to the summerstage "benefit" shows (which is me, always), it can be really cool to bring a blanket and lay on that hill outside of the rumsey playfield and just listen, which is how i "saw" sonic youth and wilco a few summers back.
*** i think these guys exist in their own alternative universe or something... where time moves, but really doesn't, or keeps circling back on itself. it's like: i always feel exactly the same way when i hear their stuff. whether old or spankin new... whether i'm in the 80s, or the 90s, or today on the way to work.... whether i'm happy or grumpy or jumpy or pissed or bouncy or breezy. i always hear them the same way.


Sunday, May 21

stick it

scoboco did the deuce* on saturday night to see the teen-flick stick it in a surprisingly crowded theater... and even more surprisingly, it was crowded with groups of guys and couples and older women. anyway, the three of us laughed (bo and co more than me) and were charmed by the movie's visual creativity and gave it about a 9.3.

the basic story: a young-ally-sheedy-looking girl gets busted for trashing a $14k window while doing bmx tricks, and the judge forces her to choose between military school and vga (at which point boco both leaned in to me and asked "what's vga?!"). she choose military school, but is sent to vga.... vickerman gymnastics academy! anyway, she's totally selfish and rude until she realizes that being selfish and rude isn't a great way to live, and so becomes more of a team player and learns valuable life lessons and teaches valuable life lessons to her fellow students and athletes and, of course, to jeff bridges, in a what's-he-doing-here? role as her coach.

her two stoner male friends provide a good amount of comic relief. the music is up-to-the-minute and nicely done. all the adults (except for the coach and the judge) are seriously miserable human beings. and i must say that the mechanics of the dramatic-competition-finale are totally different from every other sports/contest story you've seen... but, to my mind, took all the drama (however forced it may be in other movies) out of it. i did like the overall message, though: that some rules really ARE stupid; that creativity and innovation should be rewarded over playing it safe; that teenage girls are great and should stick together. if they really want to stick it. and stick it to the man. or something.

* i know nostalgia for a bygone new york is total dime-a-dozen stuff, but as we waded through the tourists and "calligraphy" hucksters, etc., i made a conscious effiort to try to really remember what 42nd between 7th and 8th was like in the late 70s early 80s--pornos, action flics, martial arts weapons shops, beer and cigarette stores where everything was behind filthy plexiglass, shady characters galore--and couldn't quite pull it off. not that it was "better" back then--i never walked that block without someone trying to rob me--but it sure was different.


Wednesday, May 17

three art shows

saturday was a perfect day to do the chelsea art thing... so that's exactly what dglass and i did. we had lots of laughs, ran into the gallery master eric, enjoyed a snack at that place across from the museum on 22nd street, and saw tons of art, highlighted by these three excellent shows:
1. richard serra at gagosian (555 w24th, through august 11). this show is amazing. serra creates huge sculptures from massive pieces of forged steel--all rusty and scarred and beautiful--and they sit there, filling the rooms with their presence, their density, their weight. it's humbling, it's mesmerizing, it's literally awesome.
2. dubuffet and basquiat at pace wildenstein (534 w25th, through june 17). i love basquiat, wasn't familiar with dubuffet, and although the linking here can be a little hokey (both painted something featuring a cow, and so here they are right next to each other), it does make sense, both thematically and stylistically. most important: both artists' creations are, to me, a total joy to look at, and there's plenty of them here.

3. al hansen, in the back room at andrea rosen (525 w 24, through may). dglass knew about this guy, who does some nice imaginative things with type and collage--most notably, taking the hersey's logo, breaking it up text twist style into "hey" and "yeah" and "she" and so on. very cool. and, by the way, he's the grandfather of beck!

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Monday, May 15

sketches of frank gehry

at dglass's suggestion we went to the sunshine theater on friday night to see sydney pollack's new documentary/portrait of one of the world's most famous architects, "sketches of frank gehry." the verdict: this is an excellent film filled with smart, funny, pointed ruminations on the creative process, on art and architecture, on fear and ego and ambition, on the struggle between perfectionism and letting go.

loosely structured as a conversation between pollack and gehry, and punctuated with talking-head commentary both amusing and insightful (artists ed ruscha and chuck arnoldi, critics herbert muschamp and hal foster) as well as somewhat pointless and fawning (bob geldoff, michael ovitz), the film has many moments that have been playing around in my head these past few days. among our favorites:

• gehry discussing the horror that strikes him before starting every project ("i don't know how to make a building!!"), and the growing confidence he feels as he walks through the fear;
• gehry revealing that he felt "embarrased" the first time he saw his seminal guggenheim-bilbao... like: "they let me do THAT?!";
• syndey pollack saying how for years he felt like he was "pretending" to be a director, until one day he realized that, in fact, he actually was a director;
• gehry's story about his moment of creative clarity, when with a slight nudge from an unlikely source, he decided scrap everything he was working on and follow his artistic instincts, likening the experience to falling off a cliff--terrifying, exhilarating, free.

yes, gehry comes across as very appealing (no surprise... he and pollack are long-time buddies), but whether you like the man or not, "sketches" offers a too-rare, nice long look at the creative thinking, the actual process and the end results of one of the most groundbreaking, influential artists of our time.


Friday, May 12

del posto

ok this'll be my last birthday post, i promise. after three straight nights of being showered with love and good food--first at room 4 dessert, then tokyo pop, then monkeytown--two saturdays ago the gorgeous dglass got all ridiculous on me and treated me to a spectacular, jacket-n-tie, old-world-elegance dinner at mario battali's del posto.

first let me say that i've never eaten at a place with this kind of... what?... like five-star service: supremely attentive and thoughtful, never overbearing, at least six different people attending to our every need, my water glass was NEVER empty (and i drank like 25 of them!), and they even brought over this silly little stool upon which dglass could rest her bag.

as for the food, it was beautiful. we each ordered the ten-course chef's tasting menu, which to me is totally the way to go at special-occasion places like this. it was all very, very good, but here are some highlights: the pea pasta packets were heavenly. the head cheese (they didn't call it that, but that's what it was) was decadent and delicious, especially paired with the AMAZING 25-year-old balsamic vinegar. the vegetables in truffle oil were perfect. the rigatoni with boar was rich and wonderful. the honey--the honey!--that came with the cheese course was fabulous. the attention to detail on each dish made the entire meal so tasty; such an unforgettable experience. and THEN, after all that eating, they bring around this UNbelievable cookie cart, and gave us like three-desserts-worth of the best italian cookies i've ever had in my life.

dglass and i have celebrated four birthdays together, and done the tasting menu thing each time: at jack's luxury oyster bar, megu, wd-50, an now del posto. and it's such a joy to share such special nights with such a special woman.

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Monday, May 8

dirty bird DON'T go

i was feeling like maybe i had missed something. like i was the lone hater at a love fest.

see, a few weeks ago a psyched-up scoboco went to dirty bird to go, the new fried chicken place on 14th and 7th avenue that's been getting tons of buzz, heaps of praise, loads of business.

i must say, i was totally underwhelmed. everything--the fried chicken, the rotisserie chicken, the dirty rice, and especially the mac and cheese--was stunningly bland. i guess that's not the worst crime, but i dropped like 70 bucks for 5 people for lunch! and it was ridiculously slow AND they forgot to pack my rotisserie chicken, which i had to go pick up later because we had traveled to williamsburg before i realized their mistake.

anyway, new york magazine had a similiar experience (four of them, actually), which was the first unkind words i've heard about this place that weren't coming out of my mouth, which made me feel like i wasn't just being grumpy.

yes, it's new, and i had a near-perfect meal by these same chefs at jack's luxury oyster bar a couple summers back, but i hope they get their act together soon.

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mymix 5.8

i make a new on-the-go mix just about every morning. here's what i'm listening to, shuffled, today...

bloc party: this modern love
wolfmother: dimension
gomez: shot shot
the rakes: work, work (pub club sleep)
mobius band: the loving sounds of static*
world party: is it like today?
rainer maria: life of leisure
pinback: penelope
the izzys: morning bells
yeah yeah yeahs: gold lion
hot chip: keep fallin'
the diableros: sugar laced soul
beyoncé: check on it
the music: breakin'
say hi to your mom: laundry
m83: don't save us from the flames
apoptygma berzerk: mourn
eric clapton: tears in heaven
biz markie: just a friend**
avalanches: frontier psychiatrist

* my friend brett told me to check out this band, and i'm glad he did. if anyone else as any suggestions, i'd love to hear them.
** one night back in the day i saw the biz buying drinks at the apollo, and i went up and introduced myself and shook his hand. he was very friendly, and one of the largest human beings i've ever stood next to.


Sunday, May 7

studio in the park

scoboco went riverside today for: 1. the spectacularly beautiful spring day 2. opening weekend of the summer-long public art show, studio in the park. and though the art wasn't quite as brilliant as the day, we enjoyed many of the pieces a lot, and we had tons of treasure-hunt-fun just strolling from 70th street to 105th trying to find all eleven.

the concept here is great: eleven artists created original pieces that fit into their surroundings, or use the park in some way. scoboco's hands-down favorite was fabian marcaccio's the fall, a rich, colorful, clever, magnificently entertaining collage of micro and macro photographs streaked with thick gobs of silcone which curves and covers an entire wall of the tunnel near 72nd street. (you can download and print a map here). we also really liked:
• robert greenburg's almost-eerie driftwood mobiles hanging in the rotunda at the boat basin (these would probably be really cool at night);
• emil lukas's concrete, silica-fume (whatever that is) and cement slabs up near 100th street, with cool impressions on top and secret crevices on the sides;
• kenny scharf's three lollipop-looking heads on the fence between the highway and hudson beach (by the way they put up a "junior" ring course at the beach, with smaller rings and shorter distances);
• and mckendree key's floating orange balls, anchored in the hudson off the promenade near 96th street (keep your expectations low for this one: no WAY does it look like she used 8,000 balls!).

interesting free art in public spaces that you can touch, climb all over, walk upon, stumble across, admire, loathe, talk about, share... this is the kind of thing that, i think, makes this city such an amazing place to live.

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Saturday, May 6


the birthday celebrations just did not stop last week, thanks to the unbelievable generosity and creative planning of dglass. on friday night she took me to monkey town, a restaurant/screening room in williamsburg (on north 3rd street between kent and wythe) that's definitely worth checking out, if only for the novelty of the room: huge screens hang on all four walls; you sit below them (and so watch the opposite wall) on low-slung couches and eat from long, four-person communal tables.

i had first heard of this place last year around christmastime, when they were running their annual holiday porn-fest. yes, that's right. pornos play on huge screens while you eat a nice dinner with a bunch of strangers (though would it be more comfortable with a bunch of frriends?).

anyway, there was no porn last friday... but i can't say the show we saw--the vjs and dancers of eyewash--was much of an improvement. maybe that's too harsh: the first couple were bad; the second dancer was ok, the third vj did some cool stuff, but nothing you haven't seen before.

but while the entertainment was decidedly uneven, the food was actually quite good, starting with a complimentary plate of these airy, addicting cracker-things with spicy dipping sauce; through the fennel/pickled mango salad; and on to our entrees: dglass liked her short ribs on an oatmeal cake, i definitely enjoyed my hanger steak.

if you want to skip the show altogether, the front of the restaurant is food-only.

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Thursday, May 4

tokyo pop

speaking of my birthday, after opening an AMAZING amount of presents from bo and co (all from kidrobot, and thus all much appreciated), my mom took us to tokyo pop, a new sushi place on broadway near 105th street.

this place just opened... and it definitely shows. no question, everyone was very friendly, and the overall vibe/decor of the place was ok, but the entire staff looked to be in their teens, in their first restaurant job, and so there were lots of rookie mistakes... forgotten orders, wrong orders, asking for water 1000 times, etc. the service was like this: my mom finally got her entree after we had all finished our dinners.

that said, if you are a forgiving type, the food was actually pretty good, especially the non-sushi items. the highlight was a "shrimp cocktail" appetizer, in which the meat of the shrimp was chopped up with green apple, and the swimmer's head and legs and tentacle things were all fried in batter and crunchy and delicious. also good were bo and co's entree, a soup/casserole dish of beef, fish cakes, egg, and an impressive variety of bizarre root vegetables. the sushi was fine, no great shakes, but certainly fresh and clean tasting.

all in all, we'll probably give tokyo pop another try, especially if some more experienced servers respond to the large, pleading, handmade help-wanted poster in the window!

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Wednesday, May 3

room 4 dessert

so i turned 43 last week.

yup. 43.

but whatever misgivings i might feel about becoming ever-more solidly middle-aged were completely erased by the incredible love and generosity i received from all the amazing, beautiful people in my life, especially my amazing daughters bo and co, my mom, and my beloved dglass.

anyway, i felt like i had a week of perfect celebrations, but on the actual bday itself dglass took me to room 4 dessert for some late-night goodies. located in nolita on cleveland place (i think one block south of spring), this new and tiny treats-and-wine place (there's only a long bar to sit at) is a little gimmicky, but definitely good. basically, there are four dessert "flights" you can choose from, each with four riffs on the theme. we went for "chocolate" and "red", and both were, to varying degrees, interesting, fun, scrumptious. pastry chef will goldfarb is quite energetic and entertaining as he chats you up. the place itself is very pretty, even romantic. and, like i said, the desserts were all cleverly conceived and mostly delicious. makes for a nice ending to any evening.

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akeelah and the bee

scoboco couldn't wait to see this movie about an 11-year-old girl from south central los angeles who makes it to (and wins??!!???) the national spelling bee, so when they had "sneak previews" a couple of saturdays ago, we were all over it. the verdict: totally LOVED it. like, cheering in our seats loved it, along with the rest of the packed house that night.

yeah, turns out spelling bees are the PERFECT vehicle for ratcheting up movie-tension. there's the individual dealing with her own fears, strengths, limitations, quirks; there's direct competition, especially as the field of contestants narrow; there's luck, in that the word chosen to spell seems pretty random; and there's no time limit, so the "action" can be strectched out as long the director likes.

anyway, the three of us smiled and laughed (akeelah is an extremely appealing character), we squirmed in nervous excitement during the bees, we got all choked up at the end. and i thought laurence fishburne (as akeelah' reluctant coach/mentor... who, of course, learns a thing or two from his student) was terrific, as was angela basset, playing akeelah's strong-yet-fearful mom.

so now we've seen bees documentary (spellbound), musical (putnam county), and family-movie. next?


best buy: mission accomplished!

agent scoboco was lucky enough to be included a couple of sundays back in charlie todd and the improv everywhere crew's latest "scene of chaos and joy": 80 pranksters dressed like best buy employees (khakis, royal blue polo; belt, black shoes) slowly infiltrated the store on 6th avenue and 23rd street and proceeded to stand around looking helpful. the full report (complete with video!) can be found here. my report, included on their site, is repeated below...


Agent Scott reports:

This was my third mission, and the first time I had the opportunity to bring my daughters. For us, it was a HUGE success. At one point on the way over to Best Buy, Agent Co said to me: "My cheeks hurt I'm smiling so much!"

We actually had other plans for Sunday--fortunately canceled by the rain--so we woke up uniform-less that morning. A stop at Old Navy got Bo and Co as close as we could get, and Agent Todd hooked me up with the perfect royal blue shirt. I must say that the anticipation, and the speculation about what we might be doing, was at least half the fun for the kids. And spotting other people in their "prank uniforms" on the way to the meeting place provoked total giggles in all three of us!

I was actually surprised that my kids didn't feel a little disappointed by the prank itself, because there was no, like, "big moment." Keeping on a game face and seeing their dad do something so... i don't know... ridiculous and silly and "daring" was obviously entertaining enough. Some highlights of our time inside the store: the customers who would stop mid-question upon seeing no logo on my shirt and apologize, sometimes pretty profusely, that they thought i worked there (wonder what gave them THAT idea!?); watching my kids massage their cheeks in that classic "don'tsmiledon'tsmiledon'tsmile" maneuver; the dude who seemed genuinely angry at me for wearing the shirt ("what are you guys doing?!! why are you wearing these clothes!!??); and at one point about 45 minutes in wandering from the video games all the way back to the TVs and seeing the scope of our "invasion."
You know, though, having recently seen V for Vendetta and The Inside Man (both of which feature robberies and/or escapes using lots of people in identical outfits, I could definitely identify with the growing anxiety of Best Buy's security and managerial staff. All in all, though, we had a great, truly memorable day, which always seems to happen when I hang with the Improv Everywhere crew! So... thanks.

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