Friday, May 10th, 2013

How Are We To Listen To Contemporary Classical Music?

Recently I went to Carnegie Hall for, I believe, the second time in my life, to see Gabriel Kahane and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra perform Gabriel's "Guide to the 48 States." I went to college with Gabriel, where our closest contact was probably when I was an assistant stage manager on a musical he co-wrote. Since then he's established himself as a songwriter, singer and composer, one of the polymath hopes of classical music. The New York Times Magazine called him “a one-man cultural Cuisinart.” He's composed concert music for himself, string quartets, and orchestras; he wrote the music and lyrics for a musical at the Public Theater; he first attracted [...]


The Sunday Night Facebook Cooking Club

This fall I found myself in a little Sunday night advice ritual. I would leave something half-finished in the kitchen, and then go sit down on the living room couch with my laptop and go to Facebook.

October 7, 6:17pm: “It's Sunday, so that means a cooking question for facebook. I have cashew chicken going in the crock pot – what's the best/easiest way to cook broccoli to go with/under it?”

I cook on Sunday evenings because this is the way I can manage to have meals for the week, leftovers for as many lunches as I can manage. It's a strategy I probably learned from the internet [...]


The Musical About Grizzly Adams And His Bears

In 2008, Ars Nova, a small theater and development space on the far west side of Manhattan, staged a pirate/puppet rock musical called Jollyship the Whiz-Bang. The play was given a limited run, but was extended several times, revived in 2010's Under The Radar festival, and shot its co-creator, Nick Jones, into the peculiarly theater notoriety of someone who's been praised in The Times for "demented brilliance." First disclaimer: I was friendly with some Ars Nova people, and have a deep, weird love for puppets, so volunteered to spend a day helping paint puppets for Jollyship. Second disclaimer: I eventually saw Jollyship, I think, five times. Third disclaimer: I [...]


Bacon, Cream And Other Secrets Of Enjoying Late Fall Vegetables

We hear a lot about eating seasonally. I bet Maira Kalman's illustrating a Michael Pollan rule about it RIGHT NOW. In fact, I bet she already did. And I love eating seasonally—yes, it makes me feel superior and in tune with Mother Earth, ohm, but also it just tastes good. Like, a seasonal tomato versus a February tomato, those are two different vegetables. Two different planets. Two different galaxies. Two different universes that only Brian Greene can explain the simultaneous existence of. One is a vegetable, and one is gross, tasteless nonsense. Okay and also I do enjoy feeling sort of touchy-feely at-one with the planet, eating in-season, because otherwise, [...]


Embrace Your Prairie Looks And Make Some Applesauce

When I was a sophomore in college I was an incredibly cool and awesome girl, so my two best friends and I did what cool and awesome kids do in college and spent our spring break at Colonial Williamsburg. Don't get me wrong: it was awesome. We were the only people there over 16 and under 40; one of us danced the minuet in a dance-styles demonstration, one of us caught the blacksmith's eye, and all three of us got strange, bemused looks from the employees/waiters/reenactors who were the only people there around our own age. “What are you doing here?” the waiter in one tavern asked. We answered cheerily, [...]


The Tony Awards Live Chat Extravaganza

Ladies and gents, it's America's most important and most revered awards show for the most important and revered arts! Tonight, literally all of America will stop and join—what's that you say? It's the Heat-Mavericks game six? Oh. Well then… tonight, some of the gays and theater ladies will come together to hide from basketball and indulge in the not-at-all rigged awards system that heaps praise upon select, very expensive productions at a very small number of designated New York City theaters; awards are nominated by literally a couple dozen people and then chosen by all of 750 professional voters. This system serves to make almost everyone feel bad, except a [...]


Interview: Wendy McClure Goes Back to the Little House on the Prairie

When Wendy McClure's parents were moving out of her childhood home, she rescued a box of old books from their garage — Little House in the Big Woods among them. This Laura Ingalls Wilder rediscovery set her on a "pioneer pilgrimage" into the world behind these stories, and her book, The Wilder Life (out now), chronicles this adventure, from churning butter in her Chicago apartment to sleeping in a covered wagon on the open prairie.

The first things that came back to me about the Little House books were the sensory impressions — the fresh churned butter, the vanity cakes, the, and I don’t even know [...]


My Mom Explains How to Make "Turkey In a Bag"

I definitely think Thanksgiving is better than Passover. Although the latter has the edge in terms of length, elaborateness and specificity of the ritual meal, the former pulls ahead with better food (despite lacking charoset), and none of that “thank you god for bringing us out of Egypt by your mighty hand” business.

I stopped going to synagogue in high school (other than weddings and bar/bat mizvahs—benei mitzvah for those of you who like proper Hebrew pluralizations, cause yeah, I still got it), stopped fasting for Yom Kippur in college and was never very good at a week without leavened bread, but it took me several years after that [...]


Meet Your Vegetables: Grapes and Things That Taste Like Themselves

When I was a freshman in college, a friend of mine wrote a play for her senior thesis, a play about, I think, Samuel Coleridge and his sister and another poet. (I'm not looking it up because let's see what I remember from those frighteningly many years ago.) Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas were also characters. (This friend is now a successful playwright, so well done there.) There was a lot about writing, and a little about an asthma attack, and also, at one point, Gertrude said to Alice, or Alice said to Gertrude, "Salt makes things taste more like themselves."

I realize now that this was not [...]


Understudies! How 'Spring Awakening' Changed the Business of Musical Theater

Spring Awakening was first produced off-Broadway at the Atlantic Theatre Company, an institution that has built its reputation on the in-your-face masculine hyperrealism of Mamet and Shepherd and McDonagh. It featured music by somewhat disappeared (but actually really good!) pop singer-songwriter Duncan Sheik, and words by playwright Stephen Sater.

The musical transferred to Broadway and was the runaway hit-also the critical and artistic darling-of the 2006 season.


Meet Your Vegetables: Radish Chips

I have a baking sheet of radishes in the oven, hopefully transmogrifying from little red-ringed slices of a vegetable I don't particularly love into rich, crispy, salty little chips, which I hope I will at least like. Heat, oil, and salt-the same magic that makes almost every other vegetable delicious. But a preparation that's a little more finicky this time. And it's one of the last evenings it'll be cool enough for baking all summer.


Meet Your Vegetables: Asparagus Is Here!

I texted my sister: I'm realizing I need to invest in a food processor with a shredder wheel. This is pioneer cooking kugel, and she replied, hahah well it will bring you closer to your ancestors who made kugel the same way.

This all comes after I've asked her if she wants the kugel to be from both of us, and if so, if she can kick in a few bucks for my train ticket to Long Island tomorrow, because I've just dropped, like, twelve bucks at Whole Foods on these yams. The farmers market yesterday had none, and the produce at the supermarket by me is… well, I [...]


Meet Your Vegetables: The Farmers Market in Winter

By this time of year, the Inwood farmers market is a slim affair. Never particularly expansive even in the summer, the shoppers and sellers have dwindled. There is a trickle of, I don't know, either hardcore locavores or devotees of the greenmarket social scene, the urban hippie parents catching up on neighborhood gossip and scheduling playdates. There is local wine and local seafood and apple turnovers the size of your face. I don't know if those are made with local flour, and I've always worried it would be an asshole move to ask.