Oh Yeah Cellophane and All That Crap or 13 Hours at the @McKittrick
While I have not been to @sleepnomorenyc in a while, I have been to the @McKittrick Hotel and my beloved @ManderleyBar almost, I’m afraid to say, weekly. It’s hard to resist the lure of the atmosphere Punchdrunk has so painstakingly created—the unusual artists, the red velvet, and smoky stage—and other things like the camaraderie of interesting people. And all of that without a cover!
I can’t say that I’m terribly surprised by the fact that I have met such interesting and talented people at one of my favorite venues in NYC — and I’m not just talking about the actors. Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of spending a good portion of my day with my fellow blogger Frances Koncan, who notified me of an interesting art show this past Cinqo de Mayo, put on by the Calder Foundation. The show ran from 2PM-2AM in the annex of the McKittrick, which “is a space they discovered that wasn’t in the original hotel,” or so they say. While I did not arrive at 2PM, we did spend an ungodly 13 hours in and around the McKittrick—a first time for me.
After arriving at around half past three with a couple of friends, we learned we just missed the first of a few celebrity sightings, Hugh Jackman. About half way through the night I noticed a Jonas brother was there, and then apparently late in the evening Sting arrived. Frances had arrived earlier than I, so I cannot imagine how long that day felt to her. We bumped into each other as my friends and I were trying to enter the exhibit, and she was trying to take a break. And not so surprisingly, one of the cast was manning the elevators.
My question is - how do these guys keep getting looped into doing these side shows when they already have such a grueling schedule? And on top of that, we learned that Nick had fallen down a flight of stairs during a performance earlier in the week. He didn’t look his normal mellow yet happy self, instead he was mellow with a touch of what I perceived to be sadness. When I talk to dancers that I’ve known for a long time, it always seems to be the case that if they can’t dance, they don’t feel like themselves. Now, I don’t know this dancer all that well, but based on the conversations I have had with him, it is clear that he takes performing seriously and has a deep intellectual and spiritual bond with it. So, I feel for him. We felt for him so much with him manning the elevator for a 12 hour shift that I thought we couldn’t just leave him there looking sad and hurting. So after our first session in the exhibit, we went out for some snacks and got him a smoothie and cookies. You can’t leave a man down without helping him out. You just can’t.
Anyway, while we were at the exhibit we saw a number of really interesting pieces. A crowd pleasing favorite was the mesmerizing Flux (Zilvinas Kempinas, 2009), featuring a couple of spools of film undulating in mid-air, guided by the gusts of a fan aimed downwards and the gusts reflecting back up off a white cube. While the sight indeed was beautiful, the installation reminded me of another scene that has forever been ingrained in my memory: the floating plastic bag from American Beauty.
Also of interest to us was a sensory deprivation room, or at least that’s what I called it. Hidden behind a curtain to the left of the hallway from the elevator was a room in pitch black. At times during the day and part of the night, when our feet hurt and there was no where else to sit and perhaps the noise was a bit much and perhaps our eyes hurt, this dark, cool space served as an escape. While it would have been much more interesting to ourselves of sight and also heighten senses in addition to audio—perhaps olfactory? Check out this event called Dialogue that happened near South Street Seaport, where you can be led around a pitch black maze by blind guides and discover a narrative of smells.
Speaking of a smells, there was also a really cool piece with books on a table, each infused with some sort of smell. While the relationship of each scent to the title, colors, shape, and subject of each book was somehow perplexing, it was a great piece to me because it was such a conversation starter. While bending over to sniff the covers that produced these olfactory stories, and other participants in the installation leaned over to do the same, we asked, “What’s your favorite?” “What do you think this one means?” “How does that toe relate to the floral scents here?” “Is there some mustiness?”
Then there were stranger, more interesting and thought provoking performances, which though less accessible than the installation pieces were actually things that I didn’t at all expect. For instance, actors imitating (or mocking—it’s hard to say which) the current and former Presidents of the United States in The Digital Face (Liz Magic Laser, 2012 featuring Alan Good and Cori Kresge as former President George H. W. Bush and President Barack Obama). I’m not terribly sure I know the greater context of the piece, but there was definitely an uncanny feeling of watching gestures I had most definitely seen somewhere previously.
And of course there are the additional photos I have of the performances from later in the evening, that became progressively more strange. A woman walks across a seesaw and it moves up and down as she ceremoniously traverses the plank. A friend of mine called likened it to the trials and tribulations of life and the celebrations that appear sparingly throughout—not sure I buy that but there it is. There was also a film in which they took apart fish heads with chopsticks, which reminded me of dinner with my parents. Then there was the dubstep DJ who helped turn what was left of the crowd into a dubstep dance party.
By the end of the evening, after all the pieces we had tried to decipher our minds were numb, our bodies ached (not as much as Nick’s) and we had been inside for far too many hours. We wanted to be around non-hipsters, even just for a break in the monotony, and to hear music we could more easily appreciate at the Manderley.
Unfortunatelly for us, even the die hard fans, the regulars of the bar, get turned away here. And so we left our night on a somewhat low note. On our way out, we bumped into Sai who to my surprise remembered my name and was kind enough to try to help us get into the Manderley… but without success. Apparently it was an uber exclusive night of Cinqo de Mayo revelry. But fear not, I’ll be back at the Manderley tomorrow (I mean tonight) for some storytelling. As I said, I’m there far too often.
But some of the most entertaining and enjoyable moments were with Frances, as we discussed our blogs, the art we didn’t understand, and of course, her musings of Hot Guy. Whether it was over a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches or lentil soup at a fancy Italian place around the corner from the McKittrick, Frances was always so high energy and unpredictable, which is part of the fun of hanging with her. She consistently surprised me with stories about the people she’s met over the years and how she managed to get herself into hilarious situations (i still want to read it missy!)
Don’t you just love how the SNM blogger community bonds?