Thursday, September 9, 2010

Double-Takes and a Nasty Shock

Shifting in my suit, I looked at the painting. Then the title. Then the painting again. Then I tried the title one more time:

"Eurydice One: The Illusory Fall of The Bicycle Into The Sub-Atomic Parallel Worlds of Primary Color and Point of View- Part Three: The Abstract Narrative in Geome and Linead"

I tried the painting one more time. Nope. Too much genius for my puny mind. Especially after a free glass of good champagne on an empty stomach.

So I looked around at the rest of the event instead. It was a gallery opening of Adi Da Samraj's Orpheus and Linead, the first solo show of his in the city, featuring works never before released to the public. It was packed. People in varying shades of colors-on-black chatting to each other with plastic glasses in hand. Very few people seemed to be actually looking at the art, it was almost as crowded immediately outside the gallery as it was inside. I got the feeling that Samaraj's work wasn't necessarily the main thing on display.

I'd been to the neighborhood before, something I hadn't realized until arriving. It's called Chelsea. Family friends took me the last time I visited. It's a quiet, up-and-coming area on the west side full of art galleries. The galleries specialize in the kind of art that makes me feel about the same as I would reading a novel in Czech. I'm sure somebody out there thinks it's absolutely brilliant, and maybe if someone who spoke the language explained it to me, I would, too. Maybe.

Walking back from the gallery to the subway, I noticed a flyer taped to the side of a light pole. It explained, at length, that Columbia Pictures would be shooting scenes for an upcoming Hollywood movie, explaining the plot, the scene they'd be shooting, the famous actors involved, and finally that to this end, the street would be closed on this date for such and such time. It ended thanking the reader for their understanding and cooperation. Next to the thanks, in blue pen, was a reply from one such understanding and cooperative reader in all capital letters (censored here): "F--- YOU!". Do you heart NY? I sure do.

Seriously, this town has floored me over this last week. I've run into far more old friends than I expected to, and made more friends than I think I've made in a one-week period before. I've met people working at major publishing houses, a prominent professor of political science of NYU, several sketch comedy writers, my old producer from NBC, and a professional storyteller (an excellent candidate for Coolest Job Ever). I've been introduced to secret bars, and free outdoor opera screenings at Lincoln center, and one really awful B movie (let's see if anyone can place it by quote: "You see? You see? Your stupid minds! Stupid! Stupid!").

And I keep running into things that make me do double-takes. Nothing quite as big as, say Calvin Trillin's favorite observation of life in Manhattan: "Did the midget in the red dress really just set his beard on fire?" But still, enough. Yesterday it was a posted sign in Chinatown offering a substantial cash reward for "an unmarked box of paper" last seen inside Excellent Chinese Bakery on Canal Street. I smell a spy novel brewing.

I'm making fantastic personal connections left and right. I arrived last Thursday. Shortly after being invited to parties for the next three consecutive nights, I decided I'd start hunting for jobs starting on Tuesday. Then, just by being social, I got a job offer on Monday. By Wednesday, I had another one for a substantially higher wage and better hours. Though it doesn't come with free furniture the way the first did. I might still be able to get a free bed from the first guy anyway.

But while everything else here is going a lot better and more quickly than planned, there was... well, just a couple hours before I was about to be surprised with my first job offer, I got a call. It was from my sister. She said my father had been in a car accident.

When I was growing up, my father had a nasty habit of breaking bones, usually via bicycle accident. It'd happen every year and a half or so. He often marks the passage of time by remembering if we did something after he broke his leg but before he broke his wrist, etc. The most spectacular was when he was biking 300 miles from Seattle to my grandparent's place and took a little unscheduled flight over a guard rail. Seven ribs and his scapula broken that time. It wasn't many years after that that my mother finally forced him to give up biking and take up rowing.

So when my sister told me that our 72-year-old father had been T-boned by a guy who'd run a red light and was in the ICU with six broken ribs and a broken sternum, my first thought was "oh great, not again."

I didn't find out about the broken vertebrae and toe until later. No spinal damage. But a day later, a small part of his lung had collapsed, apparently from his not moving around enough during recovery, which weirdly, I'm told, is sort of a good sign. They keep saying they'll discharge him tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow they will.

It messes with your head, having so many good things happening here while your dad is in the hospital with a quarter of his ribcage broken.


  1. Sorry to hear about your dad! Mine did ice skating for 10 years and broke both wrists twice. Then a year ago he got cut off by some little kid and ended up falling and nearly rupturing his spleen. Scary stuff.

    As for the auditions...break a leg!

  2. I'm glad to hear (via FB) that your dad is doing better. As far as Chelsea, when I was there I remember one gallery entirely consisted of squarish unpainted wooden boards of uniform length grouped in various numbers on the floor. Another one had a rain-damaged phonebook for sale for I think $5,000. Yep.