Thursday, August 10, 2006

Wicked In NYC, Stuck In Penn Station

Greetings from Manhattan. I'm writing this entry on a borrowed Blackberry, so please excuse any glaring typos. It's day 5 of my family's East Coast vacation and we're sitting in Penn Station, waiting for the train back to Boston. It's running one and half hours behind schedule, perhaps due to increased security in the wake of the reported British foiling of a plot to smuggle liquid explosives onto planes.

The story was all over the news when we woke up this morning and I can only imagine that it brought an unwelcome tension to this city, in particular.

While eating dinner I overheard a mother at a nearby table, trying to
explain to her children why we now have to worry about shampoo bottles
and tubes of toothpaste on airplanes. I too struggle with the best
way to limit my daughter's exposure to the disturbing realization that
as much as I want to, ultimately, I cannot guarantee her safety.

It does seem as if the world has gone mad, so it was rather appropriate that we spent the morning at MoMA, viewing the big Dada exhibition. There were so many great pieces on display that I could have spent all day there. Here's one of my favorites from the show. Click on the image to view a flash page explaining some of the imagery.

Otto Dix Die Skatspieler (Kartenspielende Kriegskrüppel)
1920, Öl & Collage auf Leinwand, 110 x 87 cm

It was interesting to see how that particular group of artists reacted to the absurdity, the fear mongering, the propaganda and the devastating results of war. I never realized that so many of the Dadaists were politically inspired. Almost 100 years later and Dada is still relevant. I was also struck by the similarities between Dada and the LA punk scene, both in style and in spirit. One seldom thinks of the LA scene as political. Yet everything we do can be political, even if we don't realize it at the time. Being an angry woman of color and fronting a punk rock band in 1977 was not meant as a political statement but it subsequently turned out to be one. It's funny how sometimes the message we think we are sending turns out not to be the one that matters in the long run.

I guess I'm babbling again. Suffice it to say that this is a great show to see if you are at all interested in modern art.


On Wednesday afternoon, we were fortunate to catch a performance of the Broadway musical, Wicked. I loved it. It's completely enjoyable as a sort of alternative fairytale, but it also has some very relevant things to say about the world and society we live in. The first act climaxes with the witch, Elphaba, rejecting the values and limitations that her world, the Land of Oz, has thrust upon her and vowing to "Defy Gravity" as she rises above it all to take flight for the first time.

I thought of all the people I know who would love this production and I found myself wishing they could be in the audience with me to share the experience.

Yes, the world can be a scary and uncertain place but life goes on regardless and we can still choose how we wish to live it. We can make art to express ourselves, live our lives with hope and fight to change things for the better. We can choose to defy gravity.


Danny G said...

Next time you're in Boston, look me up!!!

Hope you're having a great time - the weather has been perfect.

Anonymous said...

Boston is a great town, have you considered moving?? It's a LOT cooler than Phoenix!

darkside777 said...

Thank You Alice...
Sarah would of LOVED to go with you & the family to see "Wicked".

I hope you have a safe journey back to AZ.

We miss you in CA!


germs burn said...

The Dils were fairly overtly political, perhaps too much so (hence their exile to SF?) and the Middle Class, Rik L. Rik and X more subtle, but yes, in general the LA scene was more about having fun, and god did we have fun.

Jenny Lens said...

Alice, I am pea green w/envy! My fave music are musicals, even more than punk. I'm dying to see "Wicked"! You know that DADA show is the one from France who contacted you, and later moi, about punk, but didn't really wanna hear about it. Leave it to the French and the academics.

I picked up the Dada catalog at my fave used bookstore near the Nuart. It includes a lot of women, usually written out of every art movement.

I first saw a Dada/Surrealist show at LACMA when I first began studying art in college, a few years before punk. The show was totally changed my life and I began a life-long study of modern art, so sadly overlooked in reuqired college art history courses.

Otto Dix is more appropriately a German Expressionist, very active between WW1 and WW2, always political and confrontational. Mark Vallen is an expert in German Expressionist art/graphics (he should give talks about it around town). A great many of these political images were used in early punk releases, flyers, etc.

I've always felt punk, and LA in particular, was very political and firmly rooted in Dada, even if the participants didn't know or plan it that way. I had one advantage over many of my fellow LA punks because I was older, having studied art on my own as well as a few college degrees. I also lived through the Vietnam War protest era, so my perspectives were different than you and so many others.

But I knew nothing about rock and people like Iggy and little about glam/glitter and so much that you all brought to the party. We all brought something of value that continue to give so much to so many.

People still don't believe me when I say I've never stepped foot in the state of NY. So many think that's where I took photos!

How is NY in summer? Humid? well, I'd put up w/it to hit the museums, galleries and Broadway shows.

Oh how I'd love to see the original "Evita," the divine Patti LuPone in my fave composer/songwriter Stephen Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd" revival right now! I just read Tim Burton will direct Johnny Depp in the movie version. I think it's Sondheim's only second film of his many landmark musicals, the first being the gawd-awfully miscast "A Little Night Music."

I wish Angela Landsbury, who originated it, or Patti, were young enough to play the female lead in "Sweeney Todd."

I HIGHLY recommend buying Sondheim's "Into the Woods" w/Bernadette Peters. It's my fave release, above and beyond any punk CD.

I've been hearing some songs from "Wicked" on Sirius, which I get w/my Dish TV. But you simply can't beat Sondheim when it comes to music and lyrics, and "Woods" is a riff on fairy tales, with many levels of complexity, beauty, wisdom -- an under-rated masterpiece. Anything by Andrew Lloyd Weber pales, and even "Wicked." Much to be learned from "Woods," and so enjoyable too.

Anyway, my best to you and yours. I am so thrilled to read your adventures. You are living the American Dream: family, house, vacation, how wonderful. You deserve it!

We miss you in LA! Jessee, John E Miner and Richard Duardo just exhibited around the corner from me at fabulous Patricia Correia's gallery. What a treat to see them in my hood! Darnit, I love those guys. So talented. Jessee just keeps creating better and better art. He's a trip.

Take care. Sending my love from the beach,