Sunday, November 29, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happee Tangibing

G-d bless Macy's, Dunkin Donuts, Reuters and the Pillsbury Dough Boy!
(Thanks Coko).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Avery Brooks, Mo'Nique and good acting

Avery Brooks and Mo'Nique - two people I never expected to use in the same sentence when I talk about acting. But I watched them both last weekend, and all I can say is, "Wow."

Russell and I watched Avery Brooks, Arthur Bartow, Elain Graham and Wendell B. Franklin in a reading of a new play, The Montfort Point Marine, written by Samm-Art Williams. The play focused on a retired Marine who belonged to the Montfort Point Marines, the first black company in the USMC started in WWII. In the story, the former Marine (is there such a thing?) leaves the Corps to study music at North Carolina Central University. The play reflects on his time as a Marine, a would-be classical singer, a husband and a father.

I learned a very valuable lesson about staged readings watching that show. While the three other actors surrounding Mr. Brooks did a fine job doing their readings, Mr. Brooks performed. That man acted all the way down to his fingernails. There were times when he was almost convulsing from all the energy flowing through his body. It was as though he could barely contain himself in the chair he had to sit in, as if he could barely keep himself from taking the whole stage. During the play he sang about 10 songs, from opera to spirituals; his voice is tremendous. My lesson - don't miss any opportunity to perform. Otherwise, as an actor, you're only doing your job half way.

I hope the play comes to Broadway. It would be a worthy story.

After the reading we went to Times Square to see Precious. Mo'Nique plays the mother, an angry, vicious, violent woman. SPOILER ALERT: The film ends with an incredible monologue where Mo'Nique's character lays out all her baggage about her daughter's incest for everyone to see. Mo'nique's performance was AMAZING, incredible, painful...she went deep inside to find that piece.

After the film ended, Russell and I sat in the theater talking about what she must have gone through to access that dark place. We both talked about what we had in our past that would rival the emotion of that performance. The more I learn about Russell the more I respect him so much, especially knowing how together he is now (Russell, you always just blow me away). I'm not sure how I would get myself there. I can go to pain and I can cry with no problem. But going to that angry place is difficult, I think because I've spent my life learning to contain anger. I'm not sure I would know how to let it go in a project. I guess I'll find out some day.

Thanksgiving in NYC - Part Deux

I bailed on travel for the weekend. I'm staying in town, yeah! I couldn't deal with 4 hours on a bus to DC, having dinner with a bunch of people besides my family I don't know that well, then 4 hours back to the city. So I'm here. I'm going to go to the parade tomorrow and taking a bunch of pictures. Then I'm going to Rich and Stacy's to eat way too much.

Alla y'all have fun this weekend.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Don't Throw Science Under the Bus

I've been watching this whole breast cancer/mammogram screening controversy with great interest. There are so many issues at play here...politics, funding and access to health care, responsibility for self care, racism, gender the root of it all for me is our trust in science.

As environmental professionals, when we hear results of studies that seem counter to our causes and beliefs, we say “follow the money”. Now, here we are, faced with a batch of science from a reputable organization telling us something that we may not want to hear. Follow the money and it leads you where in this case? But we can't have it both ways, can we?

Mark Twain said, "There are lies, damn lies and statistics" and never was that statement truer than now. We all want adequate health care. So what is the real issue here? These statistics about early detection couldn't have come at a worse time in the great health care debate. In matters of health care people don't give a damn about statistics and false positives; they care, ultimately, about their own survival. But what is the cost of that survival? Do we sacrifice good science in the name of billions of dollars in health care? Especially when we have one of the most expensive and ineffective health care systems in the world?

When my doctor told me that there was a suspicious spot on the mammogram I had in my 30’s, I wanted to do everything possible to take care of myself. The lump was removed and biopsied and found to be totally benign. Throughout the whole process I wasn’t thinking about what the science might have shown, I just wanted the thing out of my body. I was glad that there was a test that made it possible to detect something that might have turned cancerous. The cool, level-headed scientist in me felt a few moments of panic. Through those moments I can understand exactly what those crazy “townhallers” are screaming about.

Melding science and politics is a process that is relevant to me as an engineer and an environmental professional. As we face upcoming climate talks in Copenhagen we will face this situation over and over. Whose science will you believe? Follow the money doesn’t always work when your politics are involved. The disappointing thing to me is that most people will never even get to the level of debate where they can reasonably question scientific conclusion and politically-based policy decisions. Most people turn into a deer in the headlights where matters of science are concerned. I cringe inside when I hear someone say that they hate science and they're not good at math, especially when that someone is a woman. Issues like the mammogram debate directly affect so much of our lives. Everything from what we eat to how we live and how we act as citizens of the planet is driven by science and affected by politics. And I can’t help but wonder what this debate would look like if the study had been about men's prostate health instead of women's breast health?

It is incumbent upon all of us to learn as much math and science as we can to understand such debates and tackle issues like health care and climate change and new energy sources and diminishing water supplies we can't claim ignorance and then bash the very officials that we elected who are now making changes that we don't agree with. Let us all take the time to learn a little more and let’s pull science back out from under the bus.

Monday, November 23, 2009

West Side Story on the East Side

Why am I so lucky? Because I live in a place where I can take photos that look like this:

West Side Story on the East Side 1

And this:

West Side Story on the East Side 2

Totally unretouched (is that even a word?), no tripod, no flash, no photo editing, just my little camera, weather and me. Oh New York!

Shots From the Weekend

Man Newspaper subway_

A train

Service Changes

how do you get to Carnegie Hall

Some buildings in midtown

Times Square from above

Friday, November 20, 2009

Go See

Church of St. John the Baptist

A Ministry of the Capuchin Franciscans

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Stars of the TWC

The time Warner Center has huge, lighted stars that change color to music for the holidays. If you stand directly underneath one of them and let your camera go out of focus they look like this:

Surviving Billyboy - it's getting close up in here.

I'm in a show called Surviving Billy Boy that is part of Manhattan Repertory Theatre's Gay and Lesbian Play Series. Please come and see it if you are able to.

The theater is small (30-40 seats) and there are only 3 shows so if you have any inclination towards coming to the show, please get your tickets ahead of time by calling 646-329-6588. More details are available on theatermania.


I'm thinking about assistant directing Salome with Rafael. He's putting a cast and elements of an all male version of the show together. He wants to be in it and asked me to consider assistant directing it, especially to make sure his stuff is consistent with the rest of the show.

I have directed before. I've directed a couple of one acts and two full length productions. The shows turned out well. During the last show I directed, the guy playing the lead struggled with paranoia (I didn't know that when I cast him) and nearing the end of the rehearsal period he flew off the handle about a change to an entrance that I had made with another actor at the top of the show because he thought I was trying to screw him up. He walked off stage. I had to fight the urge to tell him to not come back. NOBODY is indispensable in a production. In the end he was not a good choice for me to have made. He did his best stuff in the audition room and after that became somewhat undirectable. And I'm not good at getting people to do what I want them to do if they don't want to do it. That is a skill I never learned.

That was the last time I directed. I found the experience exasperating. One of the other directors in the company told me that directing any artistic endeavor is 95% people management and only 5% art. I took those words to heart and never went there again. It feels like too much brain damage for me and my temperamental self.

Rafael seems to have some good ideas for Salome though. And the majority of the effort would be on him. So it might be a good way back into directing. It's something I've thought about trying again. It's been a long time and I'm a long way from that theater in Boulder. A lot has changed since then, Plus, in an all male version, I'd get to see some pretty, young boy doing the Dance of the Seven Veils. I'm KIDDING! I'm all about the ART. Really.

We'll see if it all even goes down. There's so much to getting a show together and if the stars don't align then they just don't happen. Ultimately I think it's been good to think along these lines again. So much of making this career happen is creating my own destiny and that's probably going to involve some direction at some point. So it's good for me, right? We'll see.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Work Space

Messy Workspace

Plant-filled Workspace

Black and Tan

(As directed by Rafael Garcia)

Climate's here, it's near, get used to it.

Global Warming Petition Project

31,486 American scientists have signed this petition,
including 9,029 with PhDs.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Uncle Magic

Giving a shout out to Uncle Magic.

Thanksgiving in NYC

Last Thanksgiving my mom came to NYC and we spent Thanksgiving together. I was sick. The night before the parade we went to the balloon inflation. When I woke up on Thanksgiving I felt too sick so we didn't go to the parade.

All the people in this picture give an idea of the scale of the balloons. They inflate the balloons the night before then hold the balloons down with weights and nets.

This is some big dog cartoon character that I don't know.

The Energizer Bunny. Doy!

This is Hello Kitty, at least her head. The big orange thing is the bow on her head.

This is what she looks like when she's upright and floating down the street.

I'm going to Maryland this year. I think I'd rather stay home. It would be nice to have some time off where I don't have to be anywhere or do anything. I'd love to just bum around the city and take some pictures and maybe hang out with some friends. But I told my mom that I'd be there. And my nephew is back from college. And the cat is down there and I haven't seen her since the summer. So, I'll go to Maryland.

UPDATE 1: I just had a conversation with a friend who said that she doesn't like things like this because they are basically big corporate sales pitches (my words, not hers) designed to imprint consumerism on kids brains and it takes years for the kids to change that mindset  about consumerism and what that all means (her words, not mine). I understand exactly what she's talking about. I've felt that myself. In fact the whole parade is just a big clusterf*%#k promotional gig for Macy's. 

That's my mom and dad. Doy!

The other thing about events like this is that there are sooooo many people there. The people are a lot to take, but to manage that I do what I normally do - I focus on taking pictures.  It objectifies the experience and then I don't feel the anxiety and claustrophobia of being in the crowd.

I went to the parade in 2006, when I first moved to the city. It rained so hard that day.

The parade is, for me, a tradition to welcome in the holiday season. I like Christmas but I don't go all corporate, perfect-Christmas, sparkling lights, bat-sh*t crazy. I like getting together with friends and family and decorating a tree and having traditions that I only do during the holidays. Those things are fun, and they aren't about buying presents and supporting the big, corporate dynasties that run our country. 

I won't be here, but if I were going to be, I'd probably go to the parade and take pictures. In fact I'd probably hang out at the back end and get the good shots of all the crap left over and all the people who have to clean up after all those revelers.

UPDATE 2: My friend Michael (below) just told me that he marched in the 1978 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.


Michael played the trumpet with the SUNY Maritime Marching Band. He went to SUNY before he went into the Marines. Loyalty and valor...those are two values that Michael lives by.