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Posts Tagged ‘NYC’

Mystique in Spades

September 14, 2016 | by

Suzanne Farrell revives a rare Balanchine ballet. 


Balanchine rehearsing the original production of Gounod with Maria Tallchief.

“Make the tempo be your pulse.” This remark by Suzanne Farrell—at a lecture/demo this past Sunday at New York University’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts—was both an instruction and a philosophy. Farrell, who was George Balanchine’s last great muse and is now, among other things, the artistic director of the Suzanne Farrell Ballet, was there to stage an early rehearsal of one movement from a Balanchine work she’s reviving this fall and to answer questions about bringing lost works back into repertory.

Gounod Symphony was not lost, exactly. Made during the Wanderjahr period of late 1957 and early 1958, when Balanchine returned to his company after having left to nurse his polio-stricken wife and prima ballerina, Tanaquil LeClercq, it has languished compared to the other masterpieces he spun out in such short order: Agon, Square Dance, Stars and Stripes. It fell out of repertory, is rarely performed, and never caught on as an audience favorite, although critics have always been captivated and intrigued. What relation does it bear to its three magnificent counterparts, all so modern, so innovative, so American? What relation to Bizet, as it’s nicknamed, Balanchine’s eternally popular Symphony in C of 1947, his other large-scale tribute to Paris Opera Ballet? What to his other “French” ballets? Was it beyond the company’s performance abilities when it was made? And for audiences, not showy enough? Too restrained, raffinée? Whatever it hasn’t, Gounod certainly has mystique in spades. Read More »

Cities in Books, and Other News

August 7, 2013 | by




All A-Twitter

March 5, 2013 | by

36982-424x283-Rose_and_penOne-hundred-forty-character poets, channel you inner Bashō, O’Hara, and Williams and listen up! Immortality can be yours: the New York Public Library is sponsoring a Twitter poetry contest for National Poetry Month!

Here’s the (slightly Byzantine) deal:

  • Be American and over thirteen.
  • Register.
  • Follow @NYPL.
  • “Submit three poetic tweets in English as public posts on your Twitter stream between March 1 and 10, 2013. Three poetic tweets constitute one entry and each poem must contain the @NYPL Twitter handle.”
  • “Two of the poems can cover any topic you choose, but at least one of the three poems needs to be about libraries, books, reading, or New York City.”

The panel of distinguished judges will be looking for “originality, creativity, and artistic quality.” Winners will be highlighted on all the NYPL social networks and stand to claim a passel of truly excellent poetry books. (Plus the aforementioned glory.)



The NYRB Fiftieth Anniversary Kickoff, in Tweets

February 6, 2013 | by


Old New York

December 18, 2012 | by

The Sixth Avenue El train has just cleared the steep bend off Third Street. It is now picking up speed and will, any moment now, bolt uptown. Next stop, Eighth Street, then past Jefferson Market, Fourteenth Street, then all the way north till it reaches Fifty-Ninth Street. But perhaps it is not racing up at all but grinding to a stop after that notoriously difficult curve before Bleeker Street. It’s hard to tell. The blue lettering on the train’s marker light must spell something, but it’s hard to decipher this as well. Under the el two vehicles seem to know where they’re headed. To the left of the train, on the corner of Sixth and Cornelia, a scrawny, wedge-shaped, twelve-story high-rise strains to look taller than it is. Its numberless lighted windows suggest that, despite darkness everywhere, this is by no means nighttime, but evening, maybe early evening. The building’s residents are probably preparing dinner, some just walking in after work, others listening to the radio, the children are doing homework.

This is 1922, and this is Sloan country. Read More »


Memories of the Lakeside

May 3, 2012 | by

To East Villagers of a certain age, it came as a blow: after sixteen short years on Avenue B, the Lakeside Lounge has closed. For many of us, that bar was like our living room. I don't mean that my friends and I spent a lot of time there—I mean it was a lot like our apartments. The Steve Keene acrylics on the walls, the mismatched bench and tables, the overflowing ashtrays. The fug.

The great advantage of the Lakeside over one’s living room was the music. This isn’t the place to talk about jukeboxes in general, much less the work of art in the age of digital reproduction, but that jukebox was a big deal. I remember making a special trip to the Lakeside one night, alone, in the snow, just to hear “Sitting on Top of the World” as performed by the Mississippi Sheiks.

I also remember stopping there for a beer by candlelight the night of the blackout. It was strange to sit there in the silence. Every other night the place was full of music. I never saw Iggy Pop or Dee Dee Ramone at the Lakeside, but I did hear Jason Morphew and the Reachers play whenever they came to town. It was there I first heard that verse, from Geoff Reacher’s “Paranoia Is Fame,” worthy of the Louvin Brothers:

Slowly my mind opens more and more

And when I’m dead it will be a beautiful flower

Blooming, choking out the weeds

Photosynthesizing starlight in the garden’s darkest hour

The other great attraction of the Lakeside was its photo booth. That machine took magically good photos, photos for the photo averse, as, for example, the poet Frederick Seidel (shown here with my sister, Anna O’Sullivan). One of the pictures was so unflattering, so off-putting, so deeply dour, that Seidel put it on the cover of his collection Ooga-Booga.