The former TWA Terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport is a significant example of 20th-Century modern architecture and engineering. A masterpiece of sinuous lines actualized out of poured concrete, it was designed by the mid-century modernist Eero Saarinen. Opened in 1962 it was the final terminal built at what was then called New York International Airport, as well as one of Saarinen’s last projects. Revolutionary and influential, it was Saarinen’s intention that the terminal express the excitement of travel and “reveal the terminal as a place of movement and transition.” Fifty years after the fact it remains as exciting and forward-looking as ever. And dare I say it, soignee. When was the last time an airport – or any public building for that matter – made you feel sexy? Saarinen’s building does just that, while sweeping you up in the promise and possibility of a future that, unfortunately, never quite came to pass. After laying dormant for over a decade, it was recently announced that the terminal would be developed into a luxury hotel. Thanks to Open House New York, yesterday was one of those last-chance opportunities to experience the building in full – before getting caught up in the inevitable tide of transition.
Observe the brave sons of Minnesota, marching off to die in the battle of Big Round Top. This band of Civil War re-enactors took over a field above Castle Williams this weekend on Governor’s Island. In head-to-toe wool they made their Gettysburg encampment, demonstrating firearms, answering questions, and generally reminding everyone who paused to take notice just how primitive and punishing the act of making war once was.
A rose is a rose is a rose, but a mango in any hands other than those of Empellon Cocina chef Alex Stupak wouldn’t taste nearly as sweet. The popular combo of mango, chili and fresh lime so often found hawked on street corners by machete-wielding Latin American women is upended by this chef into an ethereal, yet composed, plate of paper-thin ripe mango mounded into a pillow of sorts, dusted with chili powder, and accompanied by a bracing lime foam and dollops of chili sauce. But that’s not all: hidden beneath the fruity pillow – like a gift from the tooth fairy – is a peeky toe crab salad, which manages to elevate an elegant fruit plate into a savory-sweet appetizer that tickles every part of the tongue.
Itâ€™s hard to imagine that we owe our fair city â€” and state â€” to the insubordinate wanderings of a Brit in the pay of Dutch taskmasters, a sailor chasing marinersâ€™ centuries-old dream of a shorter route to the Orient.Â Yet 400 years ago, Henry Hudson encountered bad weather off Norway and, despite orders to return to Amsterdam, opted for a 3,000-mile detour to America instead.Â Needless to say it was one slow â€” and lost â€” boat to China. But he did chance upon â€œa very good harbor for all windes,â€ and a river that would eventually bear his name. Hudsonâ€™s happy accident gave quick rise to Nieuw Amsterdam and, ultimately, the Big Apple.Â Modern New Yorkers can tip their caps to Hudsonâ€™s pluck and celebrate the quadricentennial of his epic adventure this spring, summer and fall â€” while discovering the many beautiful facets of the present-day Hudson Valley.Â READ MORE.
Because life is short andÂ summer tests my patience, and quite frankly, despite the estimable talent of all the artists involved,Â some theatrical experiences do not warrant more than a paragraph, let alone an exhaustive examination, I’ve decided to start an occasional post called Two-Word Review. ReservedÂ for those rarest of birds – the earnest, well-intentioned misfire and the spectacular,Â ill-conceived flopÂ -Â I promise to use it sparingly. But suffice it to say that at the root of every Two-Word ReviewÂ is the inherent wish that I could get the time I spent watching them back. Richard Greenberg, Scott Frankel, and Michael Korie’s musicalÂ adaptationÂ of Todd Haynes’ filmÂ Far from Heaven, nowÂ at Playwright’s Horizons, has the dubious distinction of inspiring me to create the Two-Word Review, so it only seems fitting that itÂ be honoredÂ first. Â Far from Heaven: far indeed.
Do you ever feel like you’re floating somewhere in the outer orbit of the cultural zeitgeist? I’ve felt that way all season, at times amazed by the brave work which has gone virtually ignored and astonished by the dreck which has floated to the top. With the Tony Awards quickly approaching I find it bewildering that two of my favorite evenings at the theater this season have – to quote Julie Andrews – been egregiously overlooked. Hands on a Hardbody – now shuttered, alas – is one of the best new musicals I’ve seen in years. Based on the 1997 documentary of the same name, Doug Wright, Amanda Green, and Trey Anastasio’s show takes the pulse of a country where desperate economic times call for desperate measures: ten contestants commit to a grueling endurance competition in hopes of winning a pick-up truck. The premise is simple: last man (or woman) standing with a hand on the hardbody wins. And while in other more experienced Broadway hands that might have been the starting point for a detour into fantasyland, the writers of Hardbody, employing an effective soundtrack of blues, gospel, and honky-tonk, have crafted a sincere portrait of the dimming American dream. In short, they don’t insult the intelligence of the audience. These are real people, small-scaled and human; a cultural cross-section of small town Texas. And if the show doesn’t wow you with literal pyrotechnics, it still touches your heart. Could there be a bigger prize at stake than the elusive American dream? Whether it’s real or not, well, that’s another musical for another time, but everybody loves a winner still the same. Sue Mengers would have been the first to agree with that statement, too. Hollywood’s first female superagent came from poverty, a refugee from Hitler’s Germany. In that uniquely American way she invented herself, and by the 1970’s she represented almost every major star in Hollywood in addition to being the town’s most renowned hostess – one who could make a career with an invite to one of her twinklie-studded dinner parties. Bette Midler has been lured back to Broadway after a 30-year absence to star inÂ I’ll Eat You Last, playwright John Logan’s solo portrait of Mengers now at the Booth Theatre, and the result is an ecstatic synergy of two talented foul-mouthed divas with a gift for the gab who hold their audiences spellbound. Ok, maybe it’s not Chekov, but who doesn’t enjoy a juicy night of gossip. And straight from the horse’s mouth no less. â€œThink of me as that caterpillar from â€˜Alice in Wonderland,â€™” Sue seductively tells us from her couch at the top of the show, radiant in a flowing muumuu and seemingly as immovable as Gertrude Stein. “The one with the hash pipe.â€ And for the next 70 minutes she lights it up and we breathe deep the ruthless, rarefied dish like it was unadulterated oxygen. But what’s ultimately so appealing about Mengers is not her quickness with a vulgar turn of phrase – though in Midler’s hands it is an art, beautifully perfected – it’s that in an industry built on so much ego and bullshit she heedlessly managed to (mostly) tell the truth. In a male-dominated field, she worked her way to the top through pluck, charm, and a legendary wit. We love her in spite of the excesses she might represent because her version of the American dream wasn’t won by luck, it was built through sheer force of will. And that’s showbiz, kids.
Lyle Kessler’sÂ OrphansÂ is aÂ curiousÂ littleÂ play. The story of two brothers – one a grifter, the other a shut-in – and the mysterious gangster that upends their lives has long been a regional theater favorite. It’s slight, but affecting, and the three roles have enough meat to give any actor interested in delving deep into a character study a lot to chew on. (Maybe that explains why chunks of the play so often turn up as audition pieces.) But to be impactful as an evening of theater those three actors need to be evenly matched, which is not the case in director Daniel Sullivan’s production debuting on Broadway at the Schoenfeld Theatre. Tom Sturridge, an actor heretofore unknown to me, gives a performance of such feral specificity as Phillip, the autistic shut-in, that it leaves you wondering what might have been had his partners in crime been able to rise to his level. As Treat, Ben Foster, who replaced Shia LaBeouf after a surreal and very public spat involving creative differences, has his moments but lacks the urgent desperation which comes with assuming the mantle of being his brother’s keeper after Mom and Dad…well, we really don’t know what happened, but it’s obvious that Treat and Phillip have been left to fend for themselves for a long time. Treat gets by as a petty criminal, without any aspiration except to provide for him and his brother – a couple of orphans clinging to each other and enabling their own askew reality in a seedyÂ PhiladelphiaÂ neighborhood. (The City of Brotherly Love, natch.) Enter Harold, played by Alec Baldwin, a dapper, connected “businessman” lured home from a bar after a night of serious drinking by Treat, who’s hatched a cockamamie plan to hold Harold hostage for a tidy ransom. After passing out Harold wakes the next morning to find himself tied to a chair and it seems that perhaps the ridiculous plan was indeed sublime. YetÂ playwrightÂ Kessler subverts our expectations: Harold easily escapes his ropes, and rather than flee becomes a surrogate father to these two lost boys. You could say he gives them a lesson in self-actualization, helping Phillip to conquer his fears of the big bad world beyond the front door and giving Treat a job, along with a taste for fine suits and bourbon. Suffice it to say this happy domestic arrangement doesn’t last long and things don’t end well. There’s no emotional payoff, however, if we don’t believe these boys are fully invested in Harold. Which brings us to Mr. Baldwin. It’s disconcerting to watch an actor of such estimable talent stumble so demonstrably. His stylizedÂ shuck and jive often comes across as funny but it’s emotionally hollow, leaving you to question Harold’s existence as anything other than a metaphor made flesh. And his rapid-fire delivery a la Jack Donaghy too often threatens to turn this production into an extended sitcom – albeit one with an unfortunate ending. What subtle thrills this play provides should come from the shifting dynamics of power in the family love triangleÂ but Baldwin is clearly the alpha male here and his persona can’t seem to find the backseat. MaybeÂ ShiaLaBeoufwas right after all. Or maybe he was just too terrified by the dizzying bar set so high by Mr. Sturridge.