Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: The Year in Death

Of all the deaths that happened in 2016—and it seemed like there were more deaths in 2016 than in any year since the Plague—the one that hit me the hardest may have been the one that happened today, when I opened the New York Times and discovered that my local supermarket of the last 25 years—the Met Food on Mulberry Street in Nolita—was going out of business.
That was the final blow.
I know that may sound trivial, coming on top of all the other deaths and myriad other disasters we’ve witnessed this year, but this one, coming on the last day of the year and by complete surprise, was a bridge too far. I guess I should have known something was up this week when they stopped restocking their shelves, but still I soldiered on, my reputation as The Queen of Denial undiminished.
In the last few years, every amenity in my neighborhood has either completely gone out of business or had to relocate. The newsstand where I bought my beloved Times every day: relocated around the corner. The laundromat: relocated a few blocks south. Where once there were two delis on the same corner, there are now none. (Indeed, there are almost no delis left in my neighborhood, whatsoever.)
Last week, my gym of the last seven years, David Barton, announced to their members that they were closing all their New York locations in an email sent out at 1:30am. Surprise!
Our democracy has also, arguably, died. What else can you say when someone wins the popular vote and, because of some farkakte system called the Electoral College, fails to win the presidency?
And this is coming on top of a year that has seen a seemingly unending stream of celebrity deaths: David Bowie, Prince, and, in just the last week, George Michael, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.
So forgive me if I’m feeling a little less than festive this New Year’s Eve. Excuse me if my sentiments are more along the lines of John Oliver’s season-ending “Fuck You, 2016” episode.
I have a feeling that a lot of people will be joining me tonight when, as the clock strikes midnight, I’ll be saying this to 2016:
“Drop dead!”

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Penny Arcade Is My Spirit Animal

I just came from seeing Penny Arcade’s new show, Longing Lasts Longer, at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn. If you’re a fan of this blog, Jeremiah Moss’s blog “Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York” or, needless to say, Penny Arcade, you must see this show tomorrow before it closes!
Longing Lasts Longer is what you would get if you took the spirit of stand-up comedy, mixed it with theater and rock and roll and allowed it to delve more deeply into subjects like gentrification, political correctness and the spiritual vacuum in which we find ourselves in 2016.
For Penny Arcade, a cupcake is not just a cupcake. It’s a metaphor for the spiritual emptiness of today’s generation of twentysomethings, who are so afraid of reality, they’re trying to lull themselves into a sugar-based coma.
Penny takes common pet peeves like tourists walking four-people-across รก la Sex and the City and turns it into a statement about the death of New York City. People who move to the city now, she says, aren’t looking for adventure, to lose themselves in the city’s anonymity; they’re trying to recreate the suburbs.
Today’s political correctness on college campuses is creating a generation of defenseless, life-long adolescents who don’t know how to adapt to life’s inevitable disappointments.
Arcade paints a vivid picture of a generation that’s strapped into a tank-sized stroller at birth and, by the time they’re released at the age of 14, they have so much pent-up energy, they shoot up their schools!
Not only does she skewer the younger generation, but she creates space for those of us not born yesterday to take ownership of our lives.
She does this with the help of a pop music soundtrack ably deejayed by her co-author, Steve Zehentner. The lighting design by Justin Townsend creates an otherworldly atmosphere and the theater itself is stunningly beautiful.
Ms. Arcade moves in time to the music throughout her monologue and occasionally breaks the fourth wall to engage in small, improvised observations about the audience or her performance. (Before the show, she mingles with the audience to give them a sense of “the real Penny Arcade” so they don’t “hate her” after they’ve seen “the work.”)
All I can say is, if you’ve never seen her before, or even if you have, go see this show tomorrow before it closes!