Archive for the ‘Things To Do’ category

The New Yorker Festival, Friday

19 Sep 2009

It’s nearly autumn again, and that means it’s nearly time for the old New Yorker Festival, every middle-aged Manhattanite couple’s favorite weekend. Since I can’t go, I’ll be living vicariously through you, genial reader.

This year’s lineup is once again a cold and terrifying thing, an unapologetic cavalcade of literary luminaries that never fails to remind me just how much reading I really ought to be doing. Let’s start with Friday night.

Here we find a quiet evening of “paired readings by New Yorker fiction writers” — certainly a lovely, low-key way to begin the evening. But wait! In the rich tradition of the New Yorker dance party (that was sarcasm; I never went (it was always 21+!) but I’m sure it was wack. Or should I say sour — LIKE THOSE DAMN GRAPES THAT I CAN’T REACH!), Sasha Frere-Jones (along with Kelefa Sanneh, this year) has curated a concert that will allow pseudo-intellectual hipsters to say they went to the New Yorker festival without having to pay $25 to watch people talk for a couple of hours. Dirty Projectors, House of Ladosha, Jubilee and Liturgy are on the bill; I’ve seen DPs and Jubilee and can recommend them (especially after the brilliant Bitte Orca (that means Please Orca!)), but I know nothing about the other two except that House of Ladosha are described by TNY Web site as a “dark-crunk collective,” and any band who causes that phrase to be published on the New Yorker Web site deserves at least a modicum of respect, no matter what their music ends up sounding like. I wonder what E.B. White would think about dark crunk.

The Friday night paired readings are all at either 7 p.m. or 9:30 p.m., which presumable means that it will be possible to attend two  (but not if they’re both at the same time, man!). So let’s look at each group separately.

The 7 p.m. group is, unsurprisingly, strong. Jonathan Franzen and T. Coraghessan Boyle are a couple of names that jump out at me as having had really strong stories in TNY. And then there’s Salman Rushdie, whom I refuse to read on account of the fact that he looks really smug all the time and doesn’t deserve to have been married to Padma Lakshmi, from Top Chef. Forget about him. If I had to pick one pairing, I’d go with Boyle and Mary Gaitskill.

The night owl group is also awfully strong, with Junot Díaz, Jonathan Lethem, Colson Whitehead and Gary Shteyngart as particular standouts, in my view. I would go with Lethem/Whitehead, only because I already saw Díaz give a reading earlier this year, at Fordham. Actually, I feel like Whitehead was at Fordham last year, too, at a discussion with, among others, Saul Williams. I can’t remember, though; it may have been someone else.

But if I really had my ‘druthers that Friday night I’d see the marquee event: New Yorker Writers on The New Yorker, featuring Roger Angell, Adam Gopnik, Ariel Levy, Mark Singer and Judith Thurman, and hosted by Andy Borowitz. Though my opinion on Andy has recently declined thanks to his constant Twittery Facebook statuses (and the parade of fools who comment insipidly on them. Actually, it’s probably more the parade of fools than the statuses themselves that get me. I should go easy on Andy), he’s still an entertaining guy, and the rest of the people here are all very accomplished. Unsurprisingly, the event has already sold out (despite a hefty $45 price tag).

What clarion call, um, calls? Sounds? What clarion calls? I’m not really sure what a clarion is. Okay, just looked it up: a type of trumpet used in the Middle Ages. So how’s this for a title for this post: “Wherefore sounds the clarion?”

12 Sep 2009

Last time there was a great lapse between posts here at Tin Speaker (back in the Bronze Medals days), the spark that brought me back was a thrilling new piece of technology, one destined to change forever the way we experience the world. I’m talking of course about Microsoft’s Songsmith, which has relegated Apple and its woefully deficient GarageBand to the scrap heap of history.

Today, the motivating factor is news of an event that is sure to make everyone feel awfully swell. It’s called the Brooklyn Cheese Experiment, and I wish I could go. It’s at the Bell House in Gowanus, Brooklyn; perhaps a bit out of the way (perhaps not; I don’t know where you live), but don’t live your life in fear, man. That’s no way to be. The BCE is tomorrow, 13 September 2009, at 1 p.m. — hurry up and get dressed, or you’ll miss it.

So what’s happening here? At first I thought this was just a bunch of people bringing in home-made cheeses and everyone gets to eat them. Maybe that’s what you thought, too. But not quite. What it is is an opportunity for ordinary people (who don’t know which way to go; who, this time, will take things slow) like you and me to bring in their very finest cheese-based dishes to have them judged by a panel of ironically detached Brooklynites (just had to add “Brooklynites” to my Firefox dictionary; I’ll thank myself later). If you pay the $20 to get in ($25 the day of the event), you get to get in on the cheese-based dish action.

Sounds a bit steep, no? But wait. There’s a little surprise going on here. Not only is this a cheese-based dish competition, it’s also a home-made beer competition! Homebrewers from all around Brooklyn will bring their wares and compete for glory. So you can get your drink on, hard body.

I was just kidding about ragging on the judges, by the way. They’re actually quite an accomplished group, with such credits as Iron Chef judge and Editor at Bon Apétit magazine (Andrew Knowlton) and fromager at Chanterelle Restaurant (Adrian Murcia). Much love.

UPDATE: Just checked another part of the Web site, and it says the ticket price includes “a beer from our sponsor.” There are a bunch of beer sponsors, though, so I don’t know if there’s one main one, or you get to choose from among them, or what. I also don’t know if that means you don’t get to sample all the homebrew. The submission guidelines advise the brewers to bring 3.5 gallons of their product, but not to worry about serving cups. I think 3.5 gallons is a bit much to be solely for the judges use (let’s hope it is, at least), so I think you probably do get to sample all the beer.

I also neglected to mention that there’s an afterparty for an additional $5, at the very same Bell House. Not sure what’s going on there. It’s just going to be a bunch of people who are really, really full and don’t feel like moving at all. On the other hand, the Bell House is a great place to get hit on by older women. Just go alone, bring a copy of The Unbearable Lightness of Being and use your brother’s ID to get an over-21 bracelet. Oh, and also be inconceivably attractive, with muscles that recall the original definition of the word “Titanic.”


13 Aug 2009

No post yesterday. Or the day before! Wow. I know this caused no small measure of disappointment, especially to my more devoted readers. Please know, however, that this Web log will be all the better for the delay.

Some of you may know that in just nine days I will be leaving these fair shores in favor of warmer climes. What does this mean for Tinspeaker and Hornblower devotees? Only time will tell. Because I will not be in New York, however, I would like to suggest that my dear readers attend some exciting events which may distract them from the meaninglessness of their daily lives. Future posts in this same vein will be under the new “Things To Do” category.