Tag: MoMA

The ladies from Lyons

Friday, March 21st, 2008 | All Things, Eats, Friends, Music

There are few things SYB enjoys more than assisting tourists: hardly a week goes by without his proactively offering directions to bewildered-looking foreigners. German speakers, in particular, will capture his attention… as will fetching French women, as was the case with RM’s guests, whom we met at his St. Patrick’s Day soirée in Sunnyside. MB and JA were in town for just over a week, and fortunate I think to have such attentive and enthusiastic boosters for New York City at their disposal.

I crossed paths with the touring trio on Sixth Avenue, as they were heading into the MoMA to take advantage of Target Free Friday Nights when museum admission is complimentary from 4–8PM. All other times, it’s a rather steep $20, which explains this insane queue for entry.

Target Friday @ MoMA

So despite the fact that my MoMA membership card would earn me line-jumping privileges, I knew that every single one of these people would make it inside the museum eventually, and I didn’t particularly want to be there when they did. Not when I could check out the acclaimedDesign and the Elastic Mind” exhibit any other time… through May 12, anyway.

I met up with SYB, MB and JA a couple of hours later at Amazing 66, where we gave our visitors an authentic taste of Chinatown. Tonight’s menu overlapped much of the Mardi Gras meal -– with the short rib-stuffed pumpkin and steamed whole flounder the unqualified hits of the night — but in the excitement of feasting, I neglected to order the “Salad Walnut Prawns” — sorry, HYB! Afterwards, the nine of us made the obligatory post-dinner visit to the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory around the corner.

After the couples took their leave, it was up to the B brothers and me to plan out the rest of our evening. The night was still young, but, as it turned out, so were our guests; JA was a couple weeks shy of her 21st birthday, which strictly limited our options. Three native New Yorkers, and not one of us could immediately think of a place to spend a Friday night that did not involve drinking, or that at least required guests to be of drinking age. Embarrassing, actually – and a testament to how very long it had been since any of us had to take such matters into consideration.

I remembered what fun we’d had at J’s birthday celebration in December, and suggested Fat Cat Billiards on Christopher, both for its live music and its low-key vibe. Under 21 welcome! The $3 cover got us into the basement saloon, stocked with pool and ping pong tables, shufflepuck and foosball (“baby-foot” in France, I learned), chess and board games galore. The women, though, seemed most entranced by the live performances, and the well-over-21 among us were more than happy to settle into the worn couches for the next couple of hours to catch the sets by The Gospel Queens of Brooklyn and one very talented jazz octet.

Fat Cat Jazz

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Canadian Front

Saturday, March 15th, 2008 | All Things, Eats, Film

Back at the MoMA theaters for “Canadian Front, 2008” — a collection of feature films from our neighbors to the North. Last year’s opening film, Sarah Polley’s Away From Her went on to earn Catherine Deneuve a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her portrayal of a still vibrant woman ravaged by Alzheimer’s.

This year’s festival featured a week-long engagement of Poor Boy’s Game, directed by Clément Virgo and co-written with Nova Scotian writer/director Chaz Thorne. The film premiered at the 2007 Berlin International Film Festival and was selected later that year for inclusion at the Toronto Film Festival. It stars Rossif Sutherland, the 6’5″ dark eyed, half-brother of Kiefer and son of Donald.

Sutherland plays Donnie Rose, a brooding young man recently released from prison, where he has served nine years for a brutal beating that left a black teenager handicapped for life. Nine years later, Donnie is a changed man, but his gritty, racial tension-filled surroundings in Halifax remain much the same. Sparked by the desire to settle old scores, a local boxing champ from the black community (Flex Alexander) arranges a grudge-match with Donnie. And although it’s clear that the intent is bloody vengeance, Donnie accepts the challenge and the $20,000 payment to fight. The victim’s father (Danny Glover), moved by a desire to overcome the violence of his and Donnie’s shared past, forms a tortured and unlikely alliance with the ex-con, leading up to a climactic showdown in the ring.

MoMA sculptures

I’ve seen my share of mass destruction on film, but something about boxing movies always makes me cringe behind my fingers.

After dinner, we did some date location scouting in Midtown — no, not for me — passing Elmo along the way.

I’d been intrigued by Kyotofu, the Hell’s Kitchen branch of a Kyoto dessert bar and cafe chain, since it opened in October 2006, touting Japanese-inspired, homemade tofu-rich desserts. New York magazine called Kyotofu “a magnet most nights for dainty, delicate females and chirpy, dessert-nibbling aesthetes of the opposite sex,” which described the clientele inside architect Hiro Tsuruta’s mod, white jewel box of a dining room pretty accurately. We settled into stools around the front bar, in full view of the glass enclosed kitchen, to sample two desserts from chef Ritsuko Yamaguchi’s menu of sweet and stylish tofu, fruit, green tea, chocolate and sesame creations. (The cafe also features an extensive cocktail and beverage list, light savory bites, and on occasion, Sunday tea service.)

Kyotofu desserts

The Tofu Cheese Cake, topped with candied ginger, was wonderfully airy with a hint of tanginess, but I loved Kyotofu’s “Signature Sweet Tofu,” served with a shallow boat of kuromitsu black sugar syrup, candied apricot and a crispy black sesame tuile. The silken texture was reminiscent of the Chinese doufu fa, but creamier, with just the right amount of sweetness. Ed Levine called the dessert “strangely beguiling.”

Downtown location coming this summer.

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Wouldn’t it be loverly?

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008 | All Things, Film

When I read that My Fair Lady was going to be playing at the MoMA as part of “Rex Harrison: A Centenary Tribute” (March 5–24, 2008), I knew I would find the time to go. The 1964 film is one of my all-time favorites – one of three musicals to which I can sing along to just about every song. (The others are The Sound of Music and West Side Story.)

Roger Ebert called My Fair Ladythe best and most unlikely of musicals…The songs are literate and beloved; some romantic, some comic, some nonsense, some surprisingly philosophical, every single one wonderful.”

MoMA film

MoMA film

Controversy surrounded the casting of Audrey Hepburn instead of Julie Andrews for the part of Eliza Doolittle; Andrews had originated the role on stage to great acclaim, but producer and Warner Bros. Studio head Jack L. Warner chose established movie actress Hepburn for her greater box-office appeal. My Fair Lady went on to be nominated for twelve Oscars, winning eight (including best picture, actor and director). Hepburn, whose songs were (in)famously dubbed by Marni Nixon, was not nominated for Best Actress that year; ironically, Andrews was nominated… and won for Mary Poppins. In his Academy Award acceptance speech, Rex Harrison, the man who had played Professor Henry Higgins opposite them both, thanked “two fair ladies.”

The MoMA theater was packed tonight with fellow devotees of Hepburn and Harrison’s repartee, Lerner & Loewe’s classic songs and photographer Cecil Beaton’s delightful costumes.

The My Fair Lady DVD has a dual soundtrack, which features two songs with Hepburn’s original singing voice so listeners can judge for themselves how inadequate it was. (Contrast the scene with Nixon’s final cut here.) Interestingly, Harrison himself, despite extensive vocal training, was unable to sing his role either, which resulted in his signature quasi-speaking song delivery throughout the film. Sexy Rexy‘s deliciously patrician tones reportedly inspired the voice of Stewie Griffin on “Family Guy”.

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