Sunday, June 28, 2009


Nina Ananiashvilli retired from American Ballet Theater Saturday night. You can read all about it here. This drawing includes every ballet she danced at ABT and was presented to her Saturday night.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Booker T and his band at Joe's Pub last night, promoting his new album, Potato Hole, which he recorded with members of The Drive By Truckers.

"You hear the words?" Booker T asked the crowd after one of the loudest seven or so minutes of instrumental, organ infused rock the area around Astor place has ever experienced. Every song Booker T plays has a story to it; it's in the title and the music and if you can't exactly hear any words, that's OK, that unmistakable sound will get you by.

When the band swelled into Booker T's classic Green Onions--three songs into the set--he introduced it humbly by saying simply, "Here's a song I wrote when I was fourteen."

The performance that followed was intense, subtle and loud, abrasive and smooth and as economical and alive as the day he first recorded it with The MGs.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Any Day of the Week

Mandy Moore returned to Joe's Pub last night, performing songs from her new album, Amanda Leigh with her collaborator, Pub-favorite Mike Viola. The Pub was packed, the crowd enthusiastic and the music sweet.

"We're not putting you to sleep?" Moore asked timidly after a string of quiet pop songs with simple string, piano and guitar accompaniment. By the end of the set, the crowd was thumping the stage, demanding one more song, which she delivered in the form of a completely re-conceived and off the cuff ("Should we bring the strings out again?" Viola asked before running off stage to gather them) performance of her teen-hit Candy.

Moore will be on Jimmy Fallon's show tomorrow night, backed by Mike Viola and Kelly Jones (if you missed her appearance on Leno from way back when Leno hosted the Tonight Show).

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Crowds Seen

A couple of weeks back, right after we returned from Nelsonville, I showered off, dressed up and headed over to The Metropolitan Opera House for the opening night gala of American Ballet Theatre. I've gotten to go to a bunch of ABT galas, mostly because Susan Jones always invites me. This year she was off staging a ballet somewhere so her daughter Sarah invited me instead.

As galas go, this one was pretty special. For one thing, this year I own a tux, so I wore that instead of my black suit. No one took pictures or anything, but it looked exactly like me in a tux, so if you want to make a picture in photoshop, feel free. The other thing that sort of lifted it from the ordinary was that Michelle Obama was there to make a speech and introduce students from the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School At American Ballet Theatre. She was introduced by Caroline Kennedy who was preceded by Senator Charles Schumer making his ballet debut. Also, there were a lot of gorgeous dancers and people who looked more amazing than me in my tux. (In fairness to my tux, I was the best dressed dude on the subway car both on the way to Lincoln Center and back to Brooklyn.)

Mrs. Obama made a lovely speech about how the arts were important and most everyone in the audience (including myself) totally agreed. There was much applause and a standing ovation and it turned in to the sort of New York society debut that looks good on paper because it was, in fact, completely impressive, gracious and hard to argue with.

The next day, I jumped back on the subway and wandered uptown again, but this time for Laura's graduation from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. No politicians showed and the dress code was more relaxed, but the day was just as festive and I actually got some exposure on the big jumbotron screen--although Laura looked better when they showed her crossing the stage and picking up her diploma than I did checking my Facebook status on my Iphone.

I'm not a big fan of crowds, but if I have to brave them, I can't imagine a better series of events than the first lady's maiden trip as a cultural ambassador to New York City and my girlfriend's walk from one side of a room to another as she became a Master.