A blog of personal reflections, adventures both close to home and far away, political musings and commentary, and thoughts on negotiating life as a twenty-something, queer Mainer transplanted to New York City hoping to write, inspire, teach and change the world.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Those About to Die Salute You

There are few times working as a museum educator and public programmer that I get to feel like an art world star. Usually I'm the one behind the scenes, checking the logistics and making sure everything goes off without a hitch. This week I, along with some of my colleagues, got a chance to be the stars of the show for a change.

When Peter called me and asked me to be involved in something after work on the 13th I agreed, not really sure what he was asking me to do. Little did I know, I had committed myself to taking part in the "art party of the summer," Duke Riley's project "Those About to Die Salute You," the culmination of his residency at the Queens Museum of Art. Duke constructed boats for teams from 5 Museums in the city (Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, el Museo del Barrio, Snug Harbor Cultural Center?) out of reeds that grow in Flushing Meadows Corona Park and fashioned a project based on a Naumacia, a Roman battle in the flooded colosseum, held especially during times of hunger and strife. How fitting, I thought. Little did I know what I was in for.

Despite arriving early and being briefed on the rules, both participants and spectators were given copious amounts of free alcohol and the event began to feel a little more like a bacchanal and less like a scripted Roman battle. I was nervous when we got on our boat and were pushed out into the pool, only to have drunken visitors lobbing rotten tomatoes at our heads and kids ran around in the pool. This was not a family program, people and hey, we were supposed to be the spectacle, not them!

Everything that happened after that was a blur, but I do remember the Queens Museum team illegally boarding and capsizing our boat and me scrambling aboard their boat while beefy guys tried to throw me off. Heck no was I going to let that happen. I couldn't help but remember my great-grandfather, Captain Patrick, who saved his family by lashing them to the mast of his sinking clipper ship. While the Queens Museum celebrated victory, a climbed up their boat and flipped them (and the crowd) the bird. It probably only lasted 5 seconds, but it was an eternity in my mind.

I climbed out of the pool to find myself bleeding. My wounds got a lot of play and made me a rock star at work today, though my head was still pounding from tomato impact.

See the whole story unfold on the Brooklyn Museum's flickr stream. Gothamist also did a pretty good write up (and took great photos). The New York Times' City Room Blog also has a pretty good write up.

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Mud Jacuzzi at All Points We(s)t

Dominick and I took on our biggest challenge yet, covering the three day All Points West music festival, held in Liberty State Park in New Jersey. While covering music festivals is daunting anyway, this one was made more so because of two days of rain (and lightening) that turned the festival grounds into one big mud pit that smelled like a cow farm. Dominick was a super sport and even wrote some up some of the show to cover while I had to work. Read our review and see the pictures for Venus zine here.
After you've soaked in the music coverage, let me point out this: I was miserable, and I got in for free! I have no idea why people who live in or near NYC would pay so much for a muddy music festival when they can see most of the bands who played in NYC fairly regularly and for that much money they can even sit down!

I think that if All Points West is to be successful with a New York audience they need to really give people an added value to their ticket. It's not enough to book top acts in a city that's saturated with them. Here's my suggestions to make All Points West better:

Put it in the city proper. How about Flushing Meadows/Corona Park? At least it's not Jersey and you can get there by bike!

If it must be in Liberty State Park, how about providing a FREE ferry service from lower Manhattan, instead of asking concert goers to shell out an additional $25 or suffer on the light rail to path to subway.

Set up the stages so that sound from different bands doesn't bleed together.

Value your journalists! The press tent felt like a refugee camp at times, the ground was soaking wet like the rest of the festival grounds, and sometimes we weren't even allowed to walk on a path behind some bleachers to get there. When I first got to the festival no one told me where the press tent was and most staff members didn't even know there was one.
You can see more (amateurish) photos on my flickr stream.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Opportunus Gladiators Eleanor quod Mary Jane

I am really looking forward to the Duke Riley organized naval battle on Thursday in the World's Fair reflecting pool in flushing meadows Corona park in Queens. I love how the artist is basing this project off of the fact that the Romans staged these kind of battles in a flooded colosseum during times of extreme hunger to amuse the pleebs. How fitting for the recession! I hear it will be the summer's ultimate art party, so please join us (in a toga) at 6 p.m. on Thursday, August 13th. For more information, please read Will Cary's excellent blog entry here: