Archive for January, 2011


January 30, 2011

My review of Jon Robin Baitz’s Other Desert Cities at Lincoln Center Theater has been published on I met Robbie Baitz when he was very young, 24 or 25, and had just had his first taste of success in Los Angeles with Mislansky/Zilinsky. I’ve been watching his plays ever since.

“It’s not that Baitz has never succumbed to the occasional cliché or authorial contrivance, but he has impressed me with the consistent excellence of his work more than almost any other American playwright, certainly of his generation. In plays like A Fair Country, Mislansky/Zilinsky or ‘Schmucks,’ and The Paris Letter, Baitz zeroes in on corruption and moral rot as it shows up in various corners of business—publishing, academia, high finance, Hollywood, the art world. He’s probably best-known now as the creator of the hit TV series “Brothers and Sisters,” which exposed a wider audience to his gift for dramatizing intricate family dynamics in sophisticated dialogue. Those same talents shine especially bright in his latest play at Lincoln Center Theater, Other Desert Cities.”

You can read the complete review online here.

After Ben Brantley’s rave review in the NY Times, the play’s run is completely sold out. At the show, I sat next to Ken Fallin, who does theater illustrations for the Wall Street Journal and other publications. He mentioned that Other Desert Cities is supposed to move to Broadway in the fall.

Quote of the day: VIRUS

January 30, 2011


Like snakes, viruses have a reputation as malevolent, poisonous, and deadly. In fact, most snakes are harmless, and dangerous viruses are rare. In order to inflict serious harm, a virus has to clear several biological hurdles. First, it has to remain unrecognized by the human immune system – to evade any protective antibodies. The virus would also need to make human sick. (Most do not.) Finally, it would have to spread efficiently – for example, through coughing, sneezing, or shaking hands. Many viruses fulfill one of these criteria; some fulfill two; far fewer meet all three.

— Michael Specter, “The Doomsday Strain,” in The New Yorker

Photo diary: tail end of 2010

January 30, 2011

gamelan dancer and musician

elsewhere on Fifth Avenue

Central Park zoo castle

Michael and I have lunch every Wednesday at Franchia Teahouse on Park Avenue

Andy and I spent Christmas with the Mele-Holtzmans in Bucks County

the latest in Christmas tree ornaments: Michael Jackson Day of the Dead

also the latest in kitchenware design

the T-shirt of choice for an Echo Bazaar aficionado

last but not least: a Christmas Carol (Channing, that is)

Playlist: iPod shuffle 1/22/2011

January 24, 2011

“Gainesville,” Linda Ronstadt
“I Wanna Roo You,” Van Morrison
“Statue of Liberty,” Laurie Anderson
“United State of Pop 2009,” DJ Earworm
“Quiet Fire,” Melody Gardot
“Five Small Words,” Elvis Costello
“Bad Body Double,” Imogen Heap
“Bow Down Mister,” Boy George
“The Warwick Flag,” Suzzy & Maggie Roche
“Past,” Sub Sub
“Longing for You,” Arif Mardin featuring Norah Jones
“Magazine,” Rickie Lee Jones
“Decade and One,” Vienna Teng
“A Piece of What You Need,” Teddy Thompson
“Detour,” Wesley Tuttle
“California Jump,” DJs from Mars
“Runaway,” Kanye West
“Solo Flying Mystery Man,” Pauline Taylor
“Window Wide Open,” Scritti Politti
“Once in a While,” k.d. lang
“Dual Blues,” Arif Mardin featuring Amy Kohn
“Inside + Out,” Feist
“Voices,” Madonna
“A Night in Egypt,” Taner Demiralp
“Godsdog,” De-Phazz
“Peace Beneath the City,” Iron & Wine
“One Evening,” Feist
“Slippery Slope,” Teddy Thompson
“Baby Please Come Home,” John Martyn
“I Thought I Was a Child,” Bonnie Raitt
“The Miller’s Son,” D. Jamin-Bartlett (A Little Night Music OCR)
“The Fire,” Imogen Heap
“Fly Me to the Moon,” Diana Krall
“Stuck Like Glue,” Sugarland
“Bina’s Radio,” Dudley Saunders
“Oil Man’s War,” Kathleen Edwards
“The Colour of Day,” Remy Shand
“Hero Dead & Gone,” De-Phazz
“St. Exquisite’s Confessions,” Of Montreal

“Brick,” Ben Folds Presents the Ohio University Leading Tones
“Alexandra Leaving,” Sharon Robinson
“This Time of the Year,” Finian’s Rainbow OCR (2009 Revival)
“VI. Spleen (Aquarelle),” Dawn Upshaw
“Two Weeks,” Grizzly Bear
“Jesus of Rio,” Crosby & Nash
“Davenport Blues,” Ry Cooder
“fly away,” the Black Eyed Peas
“Frankenstein,” Aimee Mann
“Dragostea Din Tei,” O-Zone


January 20, 2011

My review of John Gabriel Borkman has just been posted on The production launches the spring season at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and stars Alan Rickman, Fiona Shaw, and Lindsay Duncan.

John Gabriel Borkman is one of those plays by a great author that one hears about but rarely sees.  Perhaps that’s precisely why James Macdonald rose to the challenge of staging it. Macdonald, who has directed fine productions of difficult works by Sarah Kane (4:46 Psychosis) and Caryl Churchill (A Number), among many others, first mounted the Ibsen play last year at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. The cast he assembled there and brought over to New York could scarcely be bettered.”

You can read the entire review online here. What I didn’t mention in the review is that two-thirds of the way through act one, during an intense scene between Alan Rickman in the title role and Lindsay Duncan as his former lover and sister-in-law, a man in the second row fainted. Stage managers and volunteer physicians started swarming around him until Rickman finally said, “We need to stop. Someone is ill,” and ushered Duncan offstage. The lights came up, and once the man was revived, his entire party left the theater. When the play resumed, Rickman launched back into the scene full-throttle — very impressive handling of an actor’s nightmare.


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