Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Beginning to See the Light: James Turrell at the Guggenheim

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

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I have heard it said that a mid-day remedy for tired eyes, strained from staring into a computer monitor, strained from days spent in an office aglow with fluorescent light, is to stare instead at a screen of pure color: a tonal palate cleanser. I don’t know. I have tried this only once. I was surrounded by strangers in the atrium of the Guggenheim Museum. It sounds like the beginning of a dream… I was not sure how long I was supposed to stare into the light for, having never actually heard the end of that anecdotal prescription but when I tried it, I didn’t want to stop.

Over the summer on a particularly hot and hazy New York afternoon, I made my way uptown for a much-hyped exhibit by the well-known installation artist, James Turrell. Since the late 1960s James Turrell has practiced art solely through the medium of light. This newest work at the GuggenheimAten Reignis thought specifically for the notorious rotunda of the museum. Visitors will find a completely transformed space, manipulated by both natural and artificial light. It is an invitation to slow their pace, get closer to their senses and perceive the physical experience of light. According to the artist, “…light has the most power without image. My work has no image, no object, no focus. So what do you have left? A lot.”

I found it refreshing; it felt like meditation or the start of hypnosis (I imagine). I focused on my breathing. I still think about it on crowded subway rides, providing just a quick moment of inner calm, a nice memory that feels very quiet. Should you find yourself in the city, eyes bleary, the exhibit closes next week.

James Turrell, Aten Reign at the Guggenheim June 21–September 25, 2013.

~ Jamie

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putting problems in perspective

Friday, June 14th, 2013

image courtesy of ny daily news

i recently came across a quote by regina brett: “if we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.” this really stuck out to me – especially because i am the world’s biggest complainer, always forgetting that there are bigger problems than delayed flights, broken phones, and the entirety of my purse spilling into the rainy streets of the city.

i’ve been living here in new york with my dad’s best friend’s family. it’s been a hassle trying to live around them, and i feel like i’m always in their way even though they tell me i’m not a burden. through all my complaints about it, i forget how fortunate i am. their son suffers from a very rare genetic neurological condition, familial dysautonomia (fd). he has an insensitivity to pain, can’t produce his own tears, has unstable blood pressure and gastrointestinal dysmotility, along with many other setbacks. he was diagnosed at birth and his family has had to revolve their lifestyle around his needs for over seventeen years. they do everything in their power to help him lead as normal a life as possible; and they have done an extraordinary job in doing so. he has surpassed his life expectancy, has done things his doctors told his parents he would never be able to do, and has been accepted into a 5-day college program in boston. however, living with this family has made me realize how much i have to be thankful for and the excess of things i take for granted.

in the wise words of regina brett, “life isn’t tied in a bow, but it’s still a gift.” at the end of a bad day, remind yourself that it could be worse. i’ll admit, this is one of my biggest struggles… but let me tell you, once you realize that, it’s amazing all of the things you begin to appreciate.

~miller

making the city smaller: HONY

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

image courtesy of humansofnewyork.com

with its fast-paced rhythm, it’s almost impossible to feel truly alone in the most populous city in the u.s. it took awhile, but i no longer have shame in eating lunch by myself, hopping from one subway car to another, or whipping out my map in the middle of soho. sure, the noise might keep you up all night or wake you at the break of dawn, but it also provides some solid entertainment when you feel “alone”.

my all-time favorite form of entertainment in new york comes from people watching, and sometimes making up stories about the interesting people i see here. it’s definitely a when-harry-met-sally way to pass time and makes you realize how “usual” it is to be unusual in nyc. i did this with one of my friends at lunch one day and she mentioned the facebook page called “humans of new york”. started in 2010 by brandon stanton, whose inspiration as a photographer led him to an incredible interest in the people who roam the streets of new york city. his story is an interesting one and worth reading; he essentially started from nothing and built his own career in a city that made his dreams attainable. humans of new york (hony) posts daily photos of bizarre or notable people (and sometimes animals) with either a description of the photo or a conversation stanton had with the person in the photo.

on my days filled with extensive people watching, i will sometimes find the people i saw photographed on hony’s website. my friend who lives here even mentioned that she has some friends who have been tagged in hony’s photos on facebook (his facebook page has almost 800,000 likes now). hony not only ties the loose ends of my made-up stories, but it also makes a city of over 8 million seem, well, smaller.

take a look and see if you recognize anyone. or if you ever miss the humans of new york, check out hony and do some new york people watching no matter where you are.

~miller

Chai Praise: Oma & Bella, The Movie and The Cookbook

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

image courtesy of omabella.com

 

Oma, Momma, Bubby. No matter what you call her, and if you’re lucky enough to know one you’ll agree, Jewish grandmothers are something special.

My own version is a highly lovable Lenore Kirschenbaum shaped wisp, a prime player in many of my stories and a snowbird currently waiting out winter’s harshest months in a jam-packed condo on the outskirts of, where else, Boca Raton.

Oma & Bella is an intimate glimpse into the world of Regina and Bella, two octogenarian friends who live together in Berlin. A delightful documentary by Regina’s granddaughter (Oma, is German for Grandma), Alexa Karolinski, the women’s memories of the Holocaust are never distant as together they lovingly prepare the same fortifying meals they ate as children (and taught themselves to recreate later after each lost their family in the war, by taste alone), and kibbitz over questions of heritage, memory and identity. As the film follows them through their daily lives, a portrait emerges of two elegant women with a touching bond, a spirited sense of humor, vivid stories, a deep fondness for Eastern European cooking… and German soap operas. Wunderbar.

Watching Oma & Bella and subsequently pouring over the film-inspired cookbook, feels like home to me. Recreating these dishes is to make tangible memories of the people I love most in this world. Even just in reading the recipes’ Yiddish titles on each beautifully illustrated page (the talented stylings of Joana Avillez), I remember my childhood; high-holidays at my grandparents’ house, setting the table a thinly veiled excuse to be within reaching proximity of the hors d’oeuvres, to sneak bites of chopped liver and half-sour pickles before the other guests arrived. I mean, how many times have I heard Lenore kvelling over kneidlach?

I long ago lost count.

Through my tears, I fell head over heels for these strong, beautiful, Jewish grandmothers. OK, fine, so I bawled my eyes out and then I made their German Sugar Cookies. I laughed out loud with them at the beauty parlor then tapped off a text to my mom to say I was making their Cheese Blintzes for Hanukkah. I smiled ear to ear when their New Year’s party went off without a hitch and then, for lunch the next day, ate enough chicken noodle soup to just about plotz.

The movie ended and I called Lenore in Florida. She’s up ‘till 1am, you know.

Now, do yourself two favors: Watch the movie & buy the cookbook. They are as inseparable as Oma & Bella themselves.

~Jamie