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Monday, October 08, 2007

New York

A great long weekend all around -- I always enjoy going to visit Alex in New York, but we did a particularly large number of cool things this time. We browsed galleries in Chelsea, which was surprisingly enjoyable, and went to a modern dance event. I got to hang out with Shane and Nina, who are now living in the city, and who (very coincidentally) were also hanging out with a couple GAO intern friends of mine from last summer. I guess the world of public policy folks is pretty small.

And one particular highlight was this art installation called "A Psychic Vacuum," which was one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time. Basically, this artist convinced the city to let him use an entire large abandoned building on the Lower East Side (conveniently, right near Doughnut Plant) for an art installation that's open for a couple months. First clue that it's unusual: you have to sign a waiver before going in. Then, you enter through a derelict Chinese restaurant:

Then you head out the back door and into a dingy, dirty maze of rooms filled with very evocative junk. Some of it was found in place in the building, some was put there by the artist, but he did a very convincing job, and the line between art and reality is very hard to identify. The overall effect is of a place that was abandoned many times by different people doing different things, but they all left behind evidence of their situation that has somehow remained in creepy stasis. There weren't very many other visitors, and wandering through the space for an hour or so, opening rickety doors and hitting dead ends, was quite immersive. Very, very cool -- I put up a gallery of photos on Flickr.

As if that weren't enough to keep me occupied, there was also the blockbuster concert on Randall's Island with Les Savy Fav, Blonde Redhead, LCD Soundsystem and Arcade Fire. It was a great show -- I had been picturing a more traditional club-sized show, but there were 25,000 people there, according to the Village Voice. This would have been a problem if we were way back, but thanks to our hours of stolid standing to keep our place, we we up reasonably close to the stage. Here's Tim Harrington of Les Savy Fav after running past me into the crowd with his very long mic cable and his, erm, "body" suit:

LCD Soundsystem's set was great -- and I agree with Andy that everything besides "Someone Great" came off very well (I especially liked "All My Friends").

The Arcade Fire's performance was pretty impressive. The Village Voice article framed it as nouveaux stadium rock, and it was anthemic -- they do drama well. The stagecraft enhanced that, with monochrome red projections on the curtain behind them, and screens on the stage cutting to shots from tiny cameras positioned on microphones at key moments. This blurry picture doesn't do it justice, but gives an idea:

Since the show was on an island without subway service, we walked back to Queens over the looong Triborough Bridge with thousands of other concertgoers, which was actually pretty neat with Manhattan all lit up. Random shots from my visit are up in another set on Flickr.

Once back in DC, I finished off the weekend with a Pinback concert last night, "government brunch" at our house today (for all us government workers with Columbus Day off), and a hike along the Potomac with Louise. If only I had more 4-day weekends...

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