Month: April, 2008

Trinity Church blooms

Thursday, April 24th, 2008 | All Things

I missed this year’s Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival) at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden when the 200+ cherry trees along Cherry Walk, and in the Cherry Cultivars Area and Japanese Garden explode in clusters of magnificent pink and white. But here’s a link to the lovely timelapse video of the 2008 blooming season, created by the BBG’s web manager Dave Allen from over 3,000 digital photos — one taken every three minutes from April 18 to April 26, 2008. Set to original music by Jon Solo.

Hanami Hana = flower, mi = see — is the cherished Japanese cultural tradition of viewing cherry blossoms, a festive time when family and friends gather beneath the full-blooming trees to celebrate the beauty of spring. Check out other Garden visitor photos on the BBG Hanami Flickr pool.

Manhattan has its blooms, too, which though not as abundant, are still beautiful. On warm spring days like today, the financial district drones emerge from out under the fluorescent lights to steal a few moments in the sun among the weathered headstones in the Trinity Church graveyard.

Flickr preview: my photos from Bay Ridge’s 17th of May Parade on um… the 18th of May. Gothamist approved!

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Earth Day 2008

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008 | All Things, Events

Spring in bloom at Union Square:

J and I celebrated Earth Day at “The Brave and Beautiful Edge of Sustainable Design” event co-hosted by Domino  Editor-in-Chief Deborah Needleman. Last month, the magazine featured their second annual roundup of eco-friendly products for a greener home. The cocktail hour was held at ABC Carpet & Home, a longtime proponent of low-impact furniture, fabrics and green design — and of doing good, generally.

Cocktails, passed hors d’oeuvres, mini-facials and shopping: 5% of the evening’s purchases went toward Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai’s Green Belt Movement.

Beaded animals from Monkeybiz, a non-profit, income-generating art and health project, which combines tradition and empowerment for women from the poorest townships of Cape Town, South Africa. Monkeybiz supplies the raw materials, and the women involved in the project – currently about 450, many infected with HIV – create the artwork and are paid for each piece they produce. Proceeds go to the artists’ families, and to support health and wellness services in their communities. Check out the documentary Bigger than Barbie for more information about the project.

Upon leaving, we each were handed products from Pangea Organics and ABC Home’s organic home care line inside oversized organic cotton totes — sure to come in handy now that Whole Foods has eliminated the use of disposable plastic bags as of Earth Day 2008.  The movement against plastic bags — arguably more symbolic than impactful — is gaining ground. San Francisco already bans their use, and the state of California enacted a law in July that requires large stores to take back plastic bags for recycling. Earlier this year, New York City Council overwhelmingly passed a similar bill requiring stores over 5,000 square feet, or with over five branches in the city, to set up recycling programs for the estimated 1 billion plastic bags  they distribute to consumers annually.

The Empire State Building goes green for Earth Day:

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Not Rochelle, Rochelle

Monday, April 21st, 2008 | All Things, Arts

At Theatre Row for the American premiere of Ayub Khan-Din’s Rafta, Rafta… directed by Scott Elliott — a last minute replacement for Kevin Elyot’s Mouth to Mouth, which The New Group will be presenting in the fall. This the second of Khan-Din’s plays to be produced here; the company staged East is East in 1999.

Rafta, Rafta… is based on Bill Naughton’s 1965 comedy All in Good Time; here, the action is set within the Anglo-Indian community and moved to working-class Bolton. Khan-Din’s play was a critical hit at London’s National Theatre last year and went on to win the 2008 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy. (Stateside critique has been similarly favorable.)

The title is culled from a Hindi song, and means “slowly, slowly.” The lyrics, as translated in the program by professors Faisal Devji and Rachel Dwyer:

Slowly, slowly she became part of me,
First my life, then the life of my life, and then life of life itself.

After their wedding feast — an overlong evening involving two sets of families, copious whisky drinking, spirited bhangra dancing, and a father-son arm-wrestling match — Atul Dutt and Vina Patel (Manish Dayal and Reshma Shetty in their fine Off-Broadway debuts) embark on their wedding night at Atul’s parents’ house. It soon becomes apparent, however, that their new home is not the ideal place to begin a new marriage: with the groom’s parents a thin bedroom wall away, their loving union remains unconsummated after six long weeks. When word leaks out after a frustrated Vina confides in her mother (Sarita Choudhury, whom we saw last fall as Frida Kahlo), some hilarious, but cringe-worthy interference ensues as both sets of concerned parents convene to decide how to best tackle the delicate situation.

The surface farce is stripped away to expose past wounds and some deeply-held resentments among the older married couples — what is it Tolstoy said of unhappy families? And as the often-obtuse and domineering patriarch (Ranjit Chowdhry) says of life, in a rare moment of reflection: “It might make you laugh… but one day it’ll make you bloody cry.

No worries: this being a comedy, a happy ending is all but assured. That the play manages to feel both exotic and familiar is to the playwright’s credit. (He is currently working on the film adaptation.)

In addition to the impressive bi-level set by Derek McLane, the play features original music by Basement Bhangra™ founder DJ Rekha at rousing volumes.

Rafta, Rafta… is playing a limited engagement at the Acorn Theatre through June 21, 2008.

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