Subway Redux: Crystal on the “4”

Crystal reflects on the New York subways (Click on the images below for the video experience): You know when you’re on the subway, and there’s another one there, another train in the tunnel right beside you, another one full of people, the light of the car and all the people and the pillars in between, everyone watching. subway trainYou know, at 33rd on the 4 or 5, and the 6 right there, everyone in that bright car, everyone going with you, going the same way, standing there in the light just like you are for them. Someone looks back. subway lookbackAnd you look the same way to her, and it’s like it will stay forever, those pillars, just standing there, staring back. That’s what New York can be. That’s what it’s supposed to be. (Excerpted from my bad side.)

Cimino’s “Heaven’s Gate”: The Price of Criticism

What is a critic’s opinion worth? How much money in real dollars? What is a star out of five? What is it per vitriolic word?old men muppetsI understand that these idle gadabouts don’t actually create anything and that they are bitter and dissatisfied because they just, well, criticize, but there’s a number in there somewhere. The recent ballyhoo about Michael Cimino’s work, Heaven’s Gate, has given me pause. Heavens-Gate softWhile the film is much like his masterwork The Deer Hunter in its majestic landscapes, focus on hypnotic ceremony, retributive violence, characters lost in a foreign land, love triangles and touching score, Heaven’s Gate was derided and Cimino vilified.

Dwarfed by the mountains in "The Deer Hunter"

Dwarfed by the mountains in “The Deer Hunter”

Dwarfed by the mountains in "Heaven's Gate".

Dwarfed by the mountains in “Heaven’s Gate”.

The film has been resurrected and re-screened as of late, and now has many on its side including Manohla Dargis in The New York Times, celebrating the “complex choreography and cinematography (as) seductive, at times stunning”, while others stick to the poo-poo trail like Joshua Rothkopf (Time Out New York) calling it, oddly, an “inert disaster”. heavens gate shotThe truth is that it doesn’t matter so much what Joshua and Co. say now. It’s 30 years ago that mattered. I would love to have seen Heaven’s Gate in its initial release in 1980, but I didn’t because the film only lasted a week…due to devastating critical opinion.

I have come to realize that this is not only a frustrating fact, but a crime. Having seen the film just now in the theater, I know that, like The Deer Hunter, it would have been a great boon to my developing psyche. deer walkenAnd so back to my original question: What is a critic’s opinion worth? There’s a dollar figure in there somewhere. Whatever it is, I want my collateral damage.

Chinua Achebe: Cycles and Lines

There is a stillness today, Chinua Achebe, author of Things Fall Apart, died at 82 years. The thing about Mr. Achebe’s noted work is not necessarily what a great story it is, but what it taught us. He showed us the cyclical nature of the oral tradition in storytelling and what happens when that world meets the linear narrative of the Western traditions.

Chandelier at New York Society for Ethical Culture

Chandelier at New York Society for Ethical Culture


Indeed we may even come to understand that things need not have to be in a line and perhaps might be better if they are not.

What’s Happened to Anderson Cooper?

I’ve liked Anderson Cooper ever since he stood outside in the hurricane winds in New Orleans; it wasn’t so much that he looked good as he was earnest. cooper050912_400Anderson Cooper has always been one for the more empathetic side of news, human interest, and he was good at that, good at sounding authoritative and in such a friendly way. pv_22970_001_0461sv_2But it seems that he’s fallen off a terrible daytime cliff these days, showing youtube clips of babies eating pickles and chatting with his co-host Snooki (of Jersey Shore infamy) about the dumbest of dumbness, including the possibility of drinking her breast milk. anderson-cooper-gifts-snooki-baby-sweet-giftIs this some kind of ethical meltdown? Or does he just need to find a good disaster to get back on track?

Fulton Street Fires & NCAA Basketball Picks

The New York City Fire Department came to put out a fire on Fulton Street just behind us on Sunday, March 17, a four-alarm fire…and then they were back less than 24 hours later to put out another. Fulton Fire Roof“It’s doubtful that there was a hotspot from yesterday,” said FDNY Chief John Esposito. “The fire was in a different area and we had people on the scene last night until six o’clock.”

We watched as firefighters hosed it down the second time for hours and then threw bits of concrete on the smoldering mess (click on the image for your viewing pleasure) while we made our NCAA basketball picks. Brick Throw I’ve got New Mexico all the way.

Buzz at Grand Central Station, New York

I’ve made it. The doors open wide, begging, clean against the wall, red coat, and just like that, everything done, everything as it should, turning and my hand cool. Grand Central woman in redShe knows me. And that’s it, why for her, she forever, our silent descent, breathing, the glass reflecting us together, backward as forward, not words, but what they might, meaning nothing, tucked into our heads upside down, she out the hall, mine, everything mine, not that, but in me, here, me young, friendly, not wanting to stop, never. My eyes are inside my head. I’m going as I should, thinking as I do anything, on this sidewalk, fading, a door closing, in a room, music, and out.* (Click on the photo and links for video clips.) *Excerpt from Buzz (1999)