Posts tagged NYC
Betty Buckley @ Joe’s Pub

There was a time, a couple of iPhones ago, when the iPhone I had played ghost music at random every once in a while. I would be sitting on a bus, or at home, minding my own beeswax, and music would spontaneously burst forth from this otherwise silent machine. There was no rhyme or reason to it—it happened only rarely and seemed unrelated to anything I’d recently been listening to—so I didn’t think much about it until SarahB and I were coming out of a theater one night, chatting as we made our way down the sidewalk, when she suddenly grabbed my arm and said, “I think I hear Betty Buckley coming from your bag.”

Anyway. At the risk of sounding pretentious (FYI not a crime), I will quote myself:

Betty's voice scares me sometimes, like getting a jolt from an electric fence and then stepping on a rake right before you stumble into a hole that might be your own grave. But in a good way.

In the best possible way.

The most distinctive voices are seldom the prettiest, and the music and we the listeners are better for it. I’m not saying her voice isn’t beautiful—it’s gorgeous—only that “pretty” as a meter of quality is oversold. It's surface shine. Stephen Sondheim wrote, “Pretty isn’t beautiful… / Pretty is what changes / What the eye arranges / Is what is beautiful” (yes, there’s a Sondheim for everything), and this is true of the ear, as well. The hard wire of Betty’s voice, her habit of moving between singing and speaking in the same line and lingering on a syllable a beat longer than expected, are what make her sound like no one else, are what carry the songs through a room, through a radio, through a speaker or headphone, and turn them into stories. For me that's a gift and a fine grace, forever & ever, amen. 

She sang this one last night (written by Lisa Loeb, and also included on her Bootleg album), along with some Steely Dan, a couple by T Bone Burnett, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Joni Mitchell:

I've already employed every superlative I can think of to describe the experience of seeing Betty Buckley perform live with my dear friend SarahB at my side—from year to year to year, from Town Hall to Feinstein's to Birdland to the Blue Note to Joe's Pub—so all I have left is this: together they form one of the best markers of my time here, of what I wanted my life in this city to be. I'm awed by these chances still, and by their good company, and will be forever grateful.

Kari Gbetty buckley, NYCComment
Life on the Upper West Side

This is from cartoonist Roz Chast in the New York Times (long story short: it’s all true): 

The Upper West Side, by contrast, offered good diners and lousy restaurants, a beguilingly terrible supermarket, zero cool bars or boutiques — nothing, in short, to attract people who do not live there.

“I really, really like that,” she said. “When I go home after being in Midtown or even the Village, the vibe is so much more people going about their business — I need to buy shoelaces, or I need to buy a new wastebasket and some hangers, and then I’m going to go home. It’s not like, Hey, there’s this new hip restaurant on West 83rd street. I don’t think so. I really doubt that.”

Kari Groz chast, NYCComment
Last night in New York City

You can watch Dame Judi Dench here for free; it cost us $50 a piece and was worth it ("how could anything involving Judi Dench not be worth it?" is one of my general rules for living).

She told a dirty Merchant of Venice story and taught us a new word ("the irrational fear of being stared at by a duck": anatidaephobia). There were the usual boneheads determined to relay their own life history during the audience Q&A portion of the event, which is always a mistake, and for some reason the first lady up to the mike thought it would be a good idea to bring Dame Judi Dench two books to read (one on the art of losing [?!] and the other a collection of poetry by Wisława Szymborska [who I personally adore]), neither of which, I am quite sure, ever made it into the hands of Dame Judi Dench. C'est la vie. Stars are not your friends, ma'am. This should never be news to people.

Afterward SarahB and I stopped for a nightcap at a magical restaurant called Thalassa, which at 8:30 on a Monday was light on eaters but generously staffed: she ordered a glass of rosé and I had a Greek lager, and both were refilled by the bartender for free, along with a plate of cheese and a small dish of fresh, plump, oily olives. We had a lovely old time chatting, and when we finally exited we were each handed a bottle of water and a tiny to-go bag filled with cookies. It was one of those delightful New York City eves that are worth savoring, and we did! We really did.

Then we hit the streets for a ride home, which you can enjoy right here, also for free.

Kari GJudi Dench, NYCComment
Notes on Tuesday, September 12

I left early this morning so I could vote in the NYC primary before work, only my voting location was not where I expected it to be (I was one block and one school short. Why are there so many blocks and schools in this town?). I decided to vote after work instead but realized I'd left my MTA pass in the jacket I was unexpectedly wearing yesterday so I had to haul my whole ass back up four flights of fucking stairs to fetch it. (There was less cursing than you might expect, illustrating some true personal growth on my part.) Then I decided I was too mad to take the M7 down Columbus so I took the M10 down Central Park West instead. This turned out to be a wise decision, since who couldn't use a 20-block-long view of Central Park first thing in the morning once in a while? Especially in late-late summer in sharp, vaguely humid sunshine? Come on, the answer is nobody. There isn't a single person in the world who wouldn't make that deal.

<<Work work work work work work>>

After work I voted because SarahB would never speak to me again if I did not, and also because I believe people who don't vote are idiots. It's literally the easiest thing you can do as a citizen of this country. The polls are open from 6am to 9pm, which is a pretty wide spectrum, although if you're working more than 15 hours somewhere you may obviously be excused. All other things considered, though, it's a low bar to meet.

After voting I went to Barnes & Noble to see Robin Sloan read from his new book, Sourdough. I've been a fan of Internet Robin Sloan for a very long time (he used to have quite an active blog) and have been a fan of Novelist Robin Sloan since Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, which is as charming as its title. He has a background in tech (he once worked at Twitter) and a broad curiosity about a lot of things, which I find refreshing, particularly in this fractious socioeconomic climate, and his views on technology today tilt toward optimism without excluding what came before: he's both forward-looking and backward-grateful. He revels in imagination and appreciation and finding use for things. He signed books after the reading and stamped them with the GPS code of the exact location of the bookstore, which was delightful and also a very Robin Sloan thing to do. More superheroes should be like Robin Sloan.

Then I shelled out some heavy clams for a bunch of books, and here's why:

Kari Gbooks, robin sloan, NYCComment
Transit notes

I left work early because it rained most of the day and when it rains all bets are off. Three packed D trains in a row might show up and I'll be standing on the platform forever (or ~15 minutes). Sometimes I think they just forget to send the B train through. I imagine it re-routing through Pittsburgh somehow, or winding through the Catskills, and since nobody ever looks up from their phones, how would they even know? They could be sailing across the Adriatic Sea. But it was there when I reached the bottom of the stairs, and only modestly packed, two small public service miracles. I was home by 5:50.

.  .  .  .  .  

The young woman sitting across from me had a wrinkled Sephora bag tucked between her feet. Her hair was long and dark and I could see out of the corner of my eye her head pitching forward, over and over, as she tried to keep from falling asleep. Finally she gave up and pulled out her phone. The universe's great multi-tool: I hope it saved her.

Kari GNYCComment