Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tales from a hot city: Summer 1995

Peformance Space 122.  The year is 1995 or it might be 1996.  I was the Box Office Manager, then Director of Communications.  One warm summer night, Min Tanaka, a Butoh inspired dance company from Japan was scheduled to perform. As the Box Office Manager, I stood right in the doorway over looking dirty, filthy, sublime 1st Avenue.  Elizabeth, the 40 year old marijuana dealer waltzed up and down the avenue; she specialized in dime bags of mediocre weed.  She was someone you could always depend on.  The usual suspects began to arrive; East Village boys and girls with mohawks, black shit-kickers, tattered T-shirts, red lipstick, the occasional gray hair, the occasional straight couple.  When out of the blue, a long stretch limousine appeared, framed by the red doorway.  Out popped Sean Lennon and his mom Yoko.  That's Ono.

Sean took the lead, bounding ahead of his mother and another man (bodyguard? boyfriend?).  He said, We have reservations.  And handed me a hundred dollar bill for $20 in tickets.  His mom hung back, eyes downcast.  She wanted so desperately to not be recognized.  As if.  Her son, however, was a big aggressive.  A bit entitled.  I waved them in.  As if they would pay.  We all knew they were coming.  We were all agog but b/c we were also jaded New Yorkers, we didn't say a word.  They glided up the steps of the hundred year old school house--- definitely leaving the luxury of the stretch limo, incongruously parked--- waiting---- alongside Elizabeth, the drunks, the trash and the stink of the city.

Image: Chinese Malaysian dancer, Lee Swee Keong.  Xinhua Photo, 2008

Monday, October 26, 2009

Corner of Joralemon & Hicks

County of Kings at The Public Theater

Check out my post on County of Kings,
Lemon Andersen's hip hop 
coming of age story
that explodes onstage at The Public Theater:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

the cougar (not)

At ABC, Cougars are O.K., but Not Always, the headline for The  New York Times, Friday, October 16, 2009.  It seems the "hit" TV show of the same name will not accept advertising from It's a women's world.  The caption reads; A dating site that crosses generations. It caters to older women seeking younger men.  The TV show is about an older woman, Courtney Cox's character, dating younger men.  It seems like a match made in media heaven.  But ABC has said, "[we] did not accept the Cougar commercial based upon the fact that the Web site had not launched..."  Yet later when the website was live and fully functional, ABC still said, no. Buh-bye.

Wait.  Let me see if I understand this correctly:

As a stereotype, cougars, are welcome on television in all their glory.  A fantasy, a farce, a joke.  In real life, not so much.  Is it because the reality of it is still dangerous?  Or is it because the reality of it is still, on some level, disgusting distasteful?  I think both are true.  Just lurking below the surface of the word, is the 16th century--- height of the witch trials--- image of an old lascivious crone.  A disheveled old bitch who lived at the edge of town, who couldn't wait to stick her tongue into a young man's mouth.

Layer on the 21st century patina of  real women, the kind I see everyday, the kind of woman I am--- 40's, 50's, blond, brunette, red-head, stylish, highly educated, accomplished, powerful, vocal, verbal, physical.  And ladies and gentlemen; that spells Trouble, with a capital T.  Because we are not the Courtney Cox stereotype.  God forbid we should see older women through any other lens.  Because we are three dimensional.  Flesh and blood.  We are not about to eat you or fuck you.  We are about to trash the hierarchy.  And this is why we are dangerous.

So congratulations ABC, I award you the gold crown of hypocrisy.  Anna North at also has a great post on the 21st century cougar; alien or animal?

My friends don't know what an unhappy bitch I am when I am sick

What exactly is social utility and how does it differ from going to a corner bar, chatting up a pretty face at a party, or laughing with a colleague?   This is old school; analog not digital.  Am I friends with my friends on Facebook; Planet Friendship. For the most part, aside from my real time friends/family--- the answer is a resounding no.   I would not post: "Am running a real high fever, can someone go to my pharmacy and pick up my prescription?"  I would not post: "It's 2:00 a.m., the witching hour and I'm so lonely."  On Planet Friendship, its all about PR, status.  It's about wit, sarcasm, self promotion.  There are strict rules.

I'm not saying this is a bad thing. 

There are things I like about Planet Friendship.  I like the fact that its a net woven with algorithms and real time people.  I like being a voyeur.  I always read the profiles.  I like to deconstruct them.  I like to imagine the real person hiding underneath.  Every once in awhile somebody posts a video that has me in stitches.  But ultimately we are posing, we are performing--- and again, I'm not saying this is a bad thing.

I don't want to be de-Friended again.  I don't want to piss anybody off.  I enjoy the social strip-tease.  I like controlling how my image is perceived on the web.  My friends on Planet Friendship don't see me when my hair is a mess, when I have dark circles under my eyes, when I schlep to the store in sneakers, rolled up blue jeans and chipped nail polish.  My friends don't know what an unhappy bitch I am when I am sick.  

I save all the bad good times for my real time network.  Friends, family. This is a social utility that operates with sacrifice, disappointment, compromise, joy, gratitude, bitter disappointment and history. That much hasn't changed.  So what is the real time benefit to Facebook?  For me, its about refining my online voice. I'm a writer.  And it's also about watching the performance of personality.  Including my own.  Let the show begin.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bear with me

Hey everyone,

Blogger is a bit fucked screwed up at the moment.  They've added new editing software that has many kinks and problems. I've got some great posts waiting to be published, so bear with me.

LA Slugocki


"The only way to despair is to refuse to have any kind of experience."  Flannery O'Connor

Monday, October 12, 2009

Here in Brooklyn, we take Halloween very seriously

View of a 2nd floor window on Atlantic Avenue. Every year these folks do it up. Wait till Christmas--- its just as crazy. And just as fantastic.

2 signs of impending sanity

I'm playing with special effects in photo editing; Here I am all rosy and healthy b/c I'm back at the gym and cooking dinner for myself. Two very strong signs of impending sanity after almost a year of insanity. I'm swimming for the first time in cool weather. I like how supple my body feels after 45 mins in the pool and 20 mins in the sauna. Tonight's dinner is green beans cooked with shitake mushrooms, lemon chicken cutlet and jasmine rice. Over-all diagnosis: Happiness.

50th birthday party celebration

My brother, Mark, and his daughter, my niece, Angelina enjoying birthday cake in Little Italy. Joey Paesano's in Little Italy has been my brother's favorite restaurant for more than a decade. It was a joy and privilege to host my family for Mark's birthday week in NYC. Many happy returns, brother.

He will always cheer me up on the morning I get home from ER

Most of the time I view FaceBook as a small town newspaper--- people who I know or used to know publishing the flotsam and jetsam of their lives. Many of my "friends" are artists and many of the posts are PR for whatever project they are working on; a new book, a workshop, a new play, a film premiere. Some of my "friends" are parents and many of their posts are about their children.

I also have several former students, and collaborators from back in the day--- we briefly catch up: living in Colorado, living in Berlin, L.A., Toronto. One "friend" a woman I knew about seven years ago is now working in Darfur for the United Nations. I like reading all this. I do. I am also "friends" with my real friends and of course with my family.

And that is an interesting concept: friends with members of your family. Not all my family on FaceBook are "friends;" some actively dislike me, haven't spoken to me in over a decade. Among those who love me, not all are on Facebook. So its a shifting subset of digital alliances--- which you could say mirrors life except the online relationship creates a permanent and accurate record. Two weeks ago, I had an emergency with my dog, Molly. It was a terrible night. No sleep. When I finally got home at 8:30 a.m., I decided to check my email and then crash for a couple of hours.

OMG. A "friend" request from my nephew, now 14. His father one of my estranged brothers. I don't know him at all. I just knew that he wanted to be my "friend" on FaceBook; a digital aunt. I was flattered, touched. I accepted his invitation and wrote: What's shaking? I found out that he's traveled to New Mexico, that his family gave him grief over his spelling, that he's smart and cool. After a couple of days, he stopped responding to my posts. And I knew that his parents blocked me. Which is their right. I'd been "de-friended."

It may be some time until I hear from him again, or I may never--- but no one can take away the happiness of being a "friend" to my digital nephew, no matter how short lived. Because it still exists. Our communication, our "friendship" still lives in cyber-space. He will always cheer me up on the morning I get home from ER. And if I may imperfectly quote Robert Frost, that makes all the difference in the world.

Summer 09: No shame

You would not expect food stamps in Brooklyn Heights. You would expect million dollar co-ops, doormen, nannies, private schools --- and you would be right. All these things exist including fey little boutiques that sell Marc Jacob's T-shirts for $200 (on sale for $140!) as well as two high end real estate offices. But co-existing in this land of splendor are people like myself; artist/writers, actor/realtor's, teacher/dancers, literary agents. And, in the midst of the recession, in the belly of the economic bell curve, trapped in the the cyclone of adjustable rate mortgages and the positively Rabelaisian greed of CEO's, I found myself living on food stamps this July and August. And what's more I enjoyed it.

But first a bit of back story:

It's not 2009, it's 1962. It's not Brooklyn, its the Midwest. And, trust me, there had been no revolution, sexual or otherwise. There were no dope smoking hippies preaching love and happiness, no Mr. Natural, Age of Aquarius. No. It's a factory town, an old Indian village, a small sea of immigrants. My father was in Viet Nam, it wasn't a war yet. My mother was at home with three small children. The checks stopped coming. Mice ruled the basement. A ham bone turned to pea soup and fed us for five days. I had bacon for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But my mother resolutely turned down food stamps.

It didn't matter that the milk had exploded in the metal container on the porch. It didn't matter that her mother told her take the bus and come for dinner, to which my mother replied, I don't have the money to take the bus. And then hang up the phone in frustration. She would not apply for food stamps. That was charity. That was the tough immigrant pride of my mother. That was the pride of her daughter, too. In the past, whenever I'd see someone pay with food stamps, which in those days looked like Monopoly money, I'd think: LOSER-- as in--- you got a incontinent beer swilling husband at home and four snotty nosed kids.

Cut to the summer of 09 and I am struggling. Serious issues of morale. But happiness as well--- my niece stays with me three or four nights a week. We drink iced coffee. She talks about her day. I talk about mine. Soon we have turned Wednesday night or Thursday night into a ritual; Trader's Joes with food stamps. They look nothing like their predecessor, now--- its a sleek little credit card. Now it doesn't scream loser, now its just another form of credit. My niece and I are delirious as we wander from aisle to aisle; tomatoes, avocados, toasted almonds, arugula, pre-cooked turkey meatballs, couscous and chicken, then a stop at the free sample station for a cup of really good hot coffee, and a bite of a macaroon with ginger ice cream, or a chicken burrito, with salsa verde. Muy bien!

I'd get the cherry soy ice cream with dark chocolate, my niece would get goat cheese. I'd always pick up beef carpaccio and she'd get raisin bran cereal and milk. We always scooped up the teriyaki frozen chicken and jasmine rice, the vegetarian pizza. Our shopping cart is now full and half the time girlfriend is on her cell to her boyfriend, but I don't care. Trader Joes in August 09 is a wonderland, better than Disney world, better than Las Vegas. The employees are always friendly--- I even asked a cashier once, Is this a good job? Are you treated well? He replied, sincerely, Yes. I am.

Paying for all this with food stamps didn't feel shameful. Nobody seemed to care. My niece and I would walk out into the twilight, onto Atlantic Avenue, the streets still thick with strollers and traffic, carrying five bags of food, happy and content. Happy about filling up the fridge and cupboards when we got home. Perhaps it was a different time for my mother--- a new immigrant, still vivid memories of the war, a young wife. But I'm 1.5. I was born here. I have a Master's Degree. There are no children at home. If food stamps are a benefit I can receive while the economy is in the toilet, I'll take it. After all this is the government that allowed rapacious banks to triple my APR.

So. No shame. None at all. Instead--- a happy memory of hot summer nights, 2009. My mom would've had fun, too, with me, with her granddaughter, getting a cup of coffee then hitting the frozen food section at Trader Joes.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Anita Valium

This image courtesy of Appetite for Equal Rights. Halloween costume called "Anita Valium." Because nothing is sexier than a woman who's in a straight jacket. This blog called for costume ideas that are not sexist. Any ideas? Can a woman be sexy and yet not sexist?

Vu of the Hudson River @ twilight

Family Photo

This distinguished looking gentleman is my father, Albert Slugocki, and the lady is his wife, my stepmother, Margaret. The man did three tours of duty in Viet Nam earning him a Purple Heart. He also set up a non-profit foundation on the Amazon River bringing medical care to the indigenous tribes. I'm proud of him. My stepmother also offered to pay Molly's medical bills last week when I had to rush her to the hospital. It's good to have family.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Season of the witch

Let's get lost in a pumpkin patch together. You be the ghost and I'll be the witch. We'll make pumpkin pies and eat them together under a full moon. It's the season of the witch, the day of the dead, all Hallow's eve. It's the time of candied white skulls in a cemetary, worms crawling in and out of coffins, ancestors rising up out of their graves to walk the earth for one night. Time for the masque, the costume ball--- Cleopatra, Lady MacBeth, Queen Elizabeth, the stripper, the harlot, the fairy, the girl.

Obsolescent items replaced by Blackberry

A brief list of objects that have become obsolescent in my life since the advent of my Blackberry (props to brother Johnny). They are in chronological order:

  1. Land line: really what was the point of having a two phones in the house?

  2. My address book: have had one of these for the past 30 years. I liked them b/c they were a landscape and a portrait of the people going in and going out of my life. But they became superfluous.

  3. My date book: No longer spend forty or fifty dollars for a sexy Filofax.

  4. My calculator: does the math just as well as my old school one--- which by the way I've had for twenty years.

  5. My alarm clock. Since I've figured out how to set my alarm and personalize the tone, I no longer need my clock radio. This too is circa 2001.

  6. Camera. Didn't have one before, but have one now.

Little by little, I acknowledge the power of the little black beast, my Blackberry, that always travels with me. So much more than a phone, it entertains me, helps me to budget, takes pictures, make phone calls, take notes, and keep appointments, and now recently wakes me up in the morning. But I would be a fool and a philistine to note their passing without some sadness. I enjoyed setting up a new datebook every year--- it was part of the process and part of the ritual by which I welcomed the new year. I enjoyed shopping for it--- would it be the red, slightly slutty Filofax, or the just-mean-business black? Perhaps the sombre brown with gold accents? Or the cheap ones with the cardboard covers. I liked buying the monthly calendar--- that I would hang in my kitchen to remind me in bold letters of important dates. Setting my alarm clock to the public radio station, waking up to classical music. But never let it be said that I cannot keep up with shifting paradigms.

I want to be a belly dancer

I want to learn how to belly dance. I want to learn how to cock my hip and wriggle my belly, arch my back and throw my arms up. I want to be ensconced in a pink silk dress with bells on my fingers, and around my waist. I do not find this demeaning at all. It's a celebration of what it means to be women, to be female, to be sexual. I stood there this afternoon, during Brooklyn's Atlantic Antic, a large street festival--- watching the dancers, and imagined myself up there on stage, writhing and whirling to the music, not earthbound in my Birkenstock sandals, my blue jeans and my cowboy hat.

Art, hookers, champagne and music

Party on Saturday night, October 3rd, at Brick Real Estate, transformed into Art Gallery once a month. Exhibit by Robert Edward Franklin, Gray Matter Study. Plenty of champagne, snacks, good music, and good people. Fellow Brooklyn-ites, fellow artists and professionals. We all talked apartments, housing; some live in an illegal loft in Chinatown, some live in Harlem, some live around the corner, and one couple told me about a flop house they had lived in--- midtown with two hookers in the other rooms; men lining up and down the stairs. One hooker was young and good looking, the other--- not so young. I asked, Did the not-so-young hooker get a lot of business? The answer surprisingly was yes. I said, Who? They replied, Jersey frat boys. Made perfect sense.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Men in the News

Emily Butler, a particularly astute writer, said this today in the Daily News for Voice of the People: "I was wondering why if state Sen. Hiram Monserrate did slip and accidentally smash a glass against his girlfriend's face, why did he not have any cuts on his hand. I would think that if the glass broke in his hand as it hit his girlfriend's face with such force that she needed 30 or 40 stitches, he, too, would have suffered some cuts from the broken glass."

I think Ms. Butler has a very good point. If we are to believe their cockamamie story--- he didn't cut her face in a jealous rage, no. He was just bringing her a drink of water, slipped and fell on top of her, accidentally carving her up. If this is the case (play along with me here) then surely the Senator would've needed stitches as well. But he didn't.

Here's another problem. The videotape. Which clearly shows him dragging her down the hallway. Hardly the image of a caring lover tending to his girlfriend. Here's another problem, it seems that she might not have been as drunk as the Senator has claimed. Under oath, she only admitted to drinking two glasses of wine. Hardly a girl coming home all drunk and slutty.

God help us if he is acquitted. This is the clown who brought Albany to its knees last summer. Come on New Yorkers, do we really want this man representing us? Men as well as women ought to have a problem with this. It doesn't matter if Ms. Giraldo has changed her story. When viewing the aforementioned videotape she ran out of the courtroom and said, I can't watch this. The judge said, You have to. Reality bites, doesn't it?

And also in the news, David Letterman. I'm sick to death of reading about sex scandals. He's a powerful, charismatic man. Not to mention rich. If the sex was consensual between two adults, I don't care. Twenty or thirty or forty year old professional women don't need us to come to their rescue. If they wanted to knock boots with Letterman in the utility closet or on his leather sofa, good for them. Maybe not so good for his wife, but that's not a public affair.

Finally, Roman Polanski. Clearly a genius auteur. The 13 year old girl he drugged and raped now a grown woman has said that she forgives him. I don't care about that either. It's true the prosecution was botched and the judge was corrupt. I saw the documentary, Wanted and Desired. He still needs to stand before a judge. He committed a crime. And he's never been punished for it. Nobody gets a free pass in this life, not even geniuses.