Bob Fosse’s “The Rich Man’s Frug” from Sweet Charity
Last night I had the pleasure of attending the American Ballet Theatre’s production of Swan Lake at Lincoln Center. My obsession with Tchaikovsky’s ballet began at a very young age; as a three year old, my mother made me black swan and white swan costumes, which I wore threadbare, and my father taught me how to play the theme on the piano at the same age.
It only took me twenty five years to make it to a live performance, and it was far more sublime then I could have imagined. Leads Polina Semionova (Odile/Odette) and Marcelo Gomes (the prince) executed the choreography with consummate lyricism and passion, and of course Tchaikovsky’s music, conducted by David LaMarche, was purely transcendent.
My favorite part of the ballet has always been the famous leitmotif, the Swan’s Theme; never have I heard something so simple and so beautiful as a melody based on an A minor triad. It replays in my head over and over, like a seductive, drunk earworm. And in the scène finale, when the lovers are united in death, in which the theme transposes from minor to major? I can never get through it without weeping. It is my favorite, most beloved moment in music.
The Swan’s Theme in A minor
I’ve been putting off this post about my recent vacation to the Caribbean city of Cartagena, Colombia (aka The Best Place Ever), because I am still in the throes of post-travel depression. Pulling out my journal from the trip and finally reviewing what I had written while I was down there further pulled at my heart strings. It’s been a week since I returned to NYC and I’m still consumed by Colombia; we lived in a tropical, sensual dreamworld for a week so starkly unlike the United States it’s simply ineffable. My experiences and the people I met had a profound impact on me.
First, I’d like to address two common questions I’ve been getting about traveling to a place like Colombia, which yes, unfortunately has a bit of a bad rap. Granted, we visited a fairly safe, tourist-driven coastal city, and I’m sure had we been in a bustling city like Bogota or Medellin our experience would have been much different. But, we weren’t, so here you go:
No, we did not get approached about anything cocaine-related. In fact, the local people we met seemed genuinely troubled and embarrassed by the stigma and stay far, far away from drugs. Booze, on the other hand, flows as freely as the tap water you can’t drink.
Yes, we felt safe. Of course we weren’t waving around our iPhone 5s on the streets, or leaving our purses unattended. If you keep your wits about you, and walk with direction and confidence, no one will seriously bother you. We got the same amount of attention and street harassment I encounter on a daily basis walking through my hood in Bushwick.
My traveling partner and friend Kate and I spent a great deal of time exploring and getting lost in the beautiful walled city, the oldest part of Cartagena. The incredible Spanish colonial architecture is surrounded by the old Las Murallas, walls built to protect the port from pirate invasion. At night we drank mojitos with our Colombian friends and danced until dawn.
Inside the walls:
Photo by Liv Hauck
A visual love letter to my hometown.
Photos by Liv Hauck
One of my favorite things about going home is looking through my parents’ photo albums, unearthing funny pictures from growing up. It makes me want to utilize film during my own children’s lives so they have something tangible to explore and remember, instead of browsing through computer files…call me old fashioned but I still cherish the feel of film, books, newspapers, etc. I don’t want to succumb entirely to the digital world.
“This is by far the sexiest show yet…” Lana cooed during her Philadelphia show on Sunday. The songstress couldn’t have more accurately described her performance and the spellbinding atmosphere she created at the beautiful outdoor Skyline Stage at the Mann Center.
Lana captivated concert goers for over an hour with her sultry torch singing backed by a four-piece band evoking the raw guitar sounds of the grunge era. Folks (ahem, critics) expecting a flashy song and dance routine should set their sights elsewhere – Lana’s renditions of classics like “Born to Die” and “Video Games” were moving and vulnerable. She seemed completely lost in her own emotional delivery, luring the audience into her sad, melancholy world. Although Lana didn’t directly interact with her fans more than a few times, she created a warm and intimate aura so often lacking in the performances of today’s perky pop singers. With each song, I fell deeper and deeper in love, acutely experiencing her highest highs and lowest lows and how they related to my own life. It was emotional recall in overdrive.
The Skyline Stage – part of Philadelphia’s stunning West Fairmount Park – was truly the best setting for a Lana del Rey concert. We gathered atop the hill, overlooking a glittering Philadelphia in the distance, surrounded by trees naturally framing the stage. As Lana softly crooned “Summertime Sadness”, her voice wafting through the lush greenery and escaping with the early summer breezes, I wanted to live forever in her summertime dreamworld.
Photo courtesy of Spin.com
Throwback to summer of 2011 in Boston, right before I moved to Brooklyn.
Photograph by Dave Krugman.
In honor of going to see Lana del Rey in concert on Sunday evening, an homage to the stylish songstress.
Niles Beach, using the 8mm app on the iPhone
Image courtesy of Google Image Search.
I rarely get excited about a spa or salon because, honestly, I have my mother trim my hair and I’ve received all of four manicures in my entire life. I am perfectly capable of painting my own nails (my slight obsession with detail and perfection forces me to do a better job than most nail technicians), I like grooming my eyebrows myself, and on the rare occasion I’ve had my make up done I spend the entire time telling the make up artist what not to do. You get the idea; I shy away from letting other people fuss over my body and my personal appearance.
I walked by Elegant Nails and Spa (6th Ave between Waverly and Washington Pl) by chance last week while exploring the West Village. What caught my eye was not only the sign in the window advertising very inexpensive spa and nail treatments, but two super stylish New York ladies leaving the salon, with more flocked inside. I made the (correct) assumption that a salon frequented by seemingly well put together New Yorkers was a salon worth going to, despite the suspiciously low prices.
After a few days of debating whether or not to make an appointment, I took the plunge and scheduled a pedicure with a spa treatment and a 10 minute massage, priced at $37. My appointment was for 6:30; I arrived twenty minutes early and was promptly welcomed by a lovely front desk attendant, who seated me immediately. My nail technician Angela made light conversation, but wasn’t too chatty during the session. For the next forty five minutes she gently exfoliated, rubbed, massaged, and fixed up my toes and feet. It was heavenly! I left walking on clouds with my perfectly painted red toes.
The salon is spotless, to boot. During my pedicure, I witnessed other nail technicians busily cleaning and disinfecting their stations; always a good sign!
I highly recommend this salon. It is difficult to find a decently priced – yet high quality – manicure and pedicure in the city, and Elegant Nails and Spa delivers both.
In lieu of an outside shower, residents of urban settings can still evoke the atmosphere of bathing among flora and fauna.
I totally forget where these images originated from; found them on my iPad. Sorry!!
Sculpture by Ronit Baranga