I saw "Dear Evan Hansen"

What I saw: “Dear Evan Hansen,” a new Broadway musical, at the Music Box Theater on West 45th near like, I dunno, 8th Ave.


What I did beforehand: saw this guy worshipping the clothes in a store, and then met up with my friend Bill from the Internet, and we had drinks. It was hard to feel like we weren’t toasting the life of our dead friend, America. RIP, America. We knew you when.


What I wore: two black shirts with jeans, hiking boots, big parka, the earrings before I broke one.


Who went with me: white people.

How I got tickets: just a couple of days before, online, for about $400.


Why I saw this show: I wonder if the world is divided into the bullies and the bullied, with some overlap. 


Where I sat: Row H seat 106, between this guy whose plane from LAX was three hours late making him miss the opening song so he had to sneak in courtesy of an usher with a flashlight and slide past me with his butt in my face after the show had started and, oh, him, and a group of three empty seats on the other side of me that were sold when I checked online. 

Things that were sad: I cried all the mascara off my eyes in the first act.


Things that were funny: people checking their phones at intermission, during a play (partly) about the power of social media.


Things that were not funny: I took off my glasses at intermission (to look at my phone) and they fell off my head and I didn’t notice until the lights dimmed for the second act, so I had to sit there, not able to see perfectly, waiting for the end so I could turn on my flashlight and crawl around. I started looking as soon as people started clapping, but couldn’t find them, and as poeple left the theater a few of the people around me noticed I was looking and pitched in. The person to find them was a house manager. I thanked him, but it felt like it wasn’t enough. 

Something I ate: homemade chips at Joe Allen.

What it is: a fine, energetic musical about a lonely, anxious teen. With moments of great truth about trying not to suck as a parent and featuring a cast that seems to embody their roles, every one of them. Highly recommended. 

Who should see it: liars, teens, parents, people who cannot imagine that social media has a positive impact on the world. People who can’t imagine what a middle class white kid in America might be anxious about. Fans of American musical theater. 


What I saw on the way home: too many ads, which is to say, nothing. 

I stayed at the Waldorf Astoria

Elevator Selfie Ceiling 
Where I stayed: the venerated art-deco icon Waldorf Astoria. On Park Avenue at 48th Street in Manhattan. 

What I did beforehand: baked and didn’t burn the bread, riding lesson,  shower, dog walk, drove to town, dragged a wheelie bag along the freshly salted sidewalks, made the train with seconds to spare. 


What I wore: James jeans, black shirt, gray cardigan, Danner hiking boots, big parka, antique earrings that I broke when I took them off.



Who went with me: the Bacon Provider (see photo, top)

How I got there: walked up the Northwest Passage from Grand Central, taking two elevators up, one down, and a huge flight of stairs.



Why I stayed here: the Bacon Provider had an action-packed schedule in the city this week, with meetings starting at 7:45 a.m. and lasting until after dinner. 

Where I slept: here.



Things that were sad: the carpets are tired and stained. The lobby is poorly lit. Once, this was my father’s favorite high-end hotel in New York. I stayed here with him on the college visiting trip he took me on in 1980. We ate dinner in the hotel and there was a woman in a gown playing the harp. It had never occurred to me that anyone other than cartoon angels and Harpo Marx actually played the instrument before. Also, people looked at my dad and I kind of funny, not like we were a dad and his college-bound kid, but like he was a creepy 40 year old, and I his jail-bait girlfriend. 



Things that were funny: paying $25 for a champagne cocktail, and even ordering a second one. 


Things that were not funny: the serious guy carrying his fancy poodle to breakfast in a suitcase; the lack of outlets; finding a charge for a $36 shoe-shine on our bill at checkout. The Bacon Provider is extraordinarily particular about caring for his shoes, takes great pride in doing it himself, had no such shoe shine (which I knew without asking him), and when I disputed the charge the receptionist did not believe me, said that a charge like that could only appear on the bill with a manager’s approval, and did not remove it, despite telling me that she would.


Something I ate: continental breakfast



What it is: a fine, old, fancy hotel that will close in a few weeks for remodeling; most rooms are expected to become condos. The hotel was purchased for almost $2B by a Chinese insurance company

Who should see it: anyone who wants to reminisce about what seemed like classy, old-money luxury in the 1980s. Hurry.

The painting has a hole in it

What I saw on the way home: the bright winter sunlight made me carsick on the train. Or maybe I was just hungover. When’s the next election?


I stayed at the NU Hotel in Brooklyn

Where I stayed: the NU Hotel, in Downtown Brooklyn at 85 Smith Street, amidst the bail bonds places serving the nearby Brooklyn House of Detention. 


What I did beforehand: tried and failed to sleep in, had bad feelings about things, put pajamas and a toothbrush in a bag, did some driving, arrived and shit.



What I wore: a feeling of dread.

Who went with me: the Bacon Provider. 

How I got reservations: online, a few days in advance. 



Why I stayed here: we had tickets to “The Beauty Queen of Leenane,” at BAM.

Where I lounged: the room had a hammock. 



Things that were sad: I have had to learn to drink scotch.

Things that were funny: sleeping in a leather upholstered compartment.



Things that were not funny: how happy I was that there were two sinks.



Something I ate: brunch including Eggs Louie and duck fat potatoes at French Louie, around the corner.


What it is: a more stylish hotel than the nearby Hilton, at a deep discount compared to a similar place in Manhattan.


Who should see it: folks in need of a downtown Brooklyn hotel, easily accessible to many subway lines into Manhattan.


What I saw when I got home: my job as toilet paper replenisher is secure.


I saw Sigur Rós

What I saw: the Icelandic band Sigur Rós at the recently restored and repurposed 1920s movie palace known as Kings Theater, on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. You can take the Q train, the B41 or B49 bus, or drive; there is a large, free parking lot behind the theater, shared with Sears.


What I wore: Chinese-made Australian boots, James jeans, indigo dyed Tanner belt; navy peasant blouse, pale blue jacket for non-persons, with royal blue ruffles that I got at Anthropology many years ago thinking it would be a cool thing to wear to concerts with jeans despite its obvious shortcoming of having no pockets. We saw others in attendance in jeans and t-shirts, some wearing their new, $65 band merch hoodies in the cold auditorium, but also a number of people in shiny silver pants or fancy cocktail dresses.

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What I did beforehand: drove over two hours to get there in Friday rush-hour traffic, with disagreeing navigation programs. Our route took us into Manhattan, down the FDR, and thorough the Battery Park underpass and tunnel. There a number of cheap places to eat on Flatbush beforehand.

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Who went with me: the Bacon Provider, and a 3,674 other excited strangers.


How I got tickets: online, in April. Tickets to their shows often sell out in minutes. 

Why I saw this show: I have been a fan of this band since I first heard them on KEXP in Seattle in 2002 or 2003. Other bands still on my need-to-see list include Wilco, Beck, and Air.


Where I sat: Row H, seat 3, behind Elmo’s sister, and between the Bacon Provider and a man with tiny, blue-tinted glasses, a blond mohawk and an arching scorpion tattooed on his head. This fellow told me that the Kings Theater was “like 100 years old, you know, from the 40s or 50s,” and that the renovation of the Kings Theater cost, “like a billion dollars. Or maybe a million.”  



Things that were sad: many people do not realize that a billion is a thousand million. A person with a billion dollars could give away 90% of what they had and still be left with one hundred million dollars, with which they could buy a castle, a jet, a yacht, some fine horses and staff to take care of them.

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Things that were funny: during the last few songs I focused mostly on whether the drummer had taken his shirt off.

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Things that were not funny: Hell is other people.

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What it is: more post-modern than a rock band, louder than what I would consider most indie music, more glam than many alternative artists, more musical than most heavy metal, more incomprehensible than most American music, more appealing than almost all more mainstream bands. This was a fucking great show.

Who should see it: those who have transcended the need to understand song lyrics, diners at the Korean taco place, people with noise-reducing hearing protection, folks who like really cool lights shows, anyone who can tolerate strobe lighting effects, hipsters, Icelanders, KEXP-listeners, and me.

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What I saw on the way home: a mini-van with all its doors open on the shoulder of where the Van Wyck Expressway becomes the Whitestone Expressway, which I said would be on fire in the movie version of our evening.  For the first half an hour I shouted at Google maps, “Why are we going east?” There was a dead baby possum in the road just a quarter mile from home.

I saw "Incognito"

What I saw:” Incognito” at the Manhattan Theater Club New York City Center Stage 1, on West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues in midtown, New York City.



What I wore: my favorite black eShakti dress with big groovy buttons and pockets, orange Puma sneakers, orange short socks.

Yes, I am that pale #luminous
What I did beforehand: went to a 9 am appointment, visited a stationery store that was hard to find in the bowels of Rockefeller Plaza, and had lunch with the Bacon Provider where we talked about what we really want to do with the rest of our lives. Then, I went back to the apartment, changed out of cute shoes and into sneakers, and decided that instead of cleaning the bathroom and vacuuming, I should buy tickets to a Wednesday matinee.

Who went with me: 314 strangers. 

How I got tickets: online at 1 p.m. 

Why I saw this show: anything to avoid housework.


Where I sat: in B 108, on one side next to two women who both held the ticket to seat B 109 and, on the other side, a woman who was reading “The Sympathizer” by Viet Thanh Nguyen on her iPhone. The reader said the author won the Pulitzer, though she did not attempt to pronounce his name. 

Things that were sad: I made her lose her place in her book because I asked her if it was any good. And when the lights went back on, at the end of the play, I hadn’t finished crying.

Things that were funny: I think anecdotes about Einstein are boring, and had I known what this play was about (how someone stole his brain from his dead body), I would not have seen it.


Things that were not funny: I got blisters on my feet walking back from lunch.

What it is: a play, 90 minutes long, with no intermission.
Who should see it: ethicists, celebrity-stalkers, neuro-scientists, philosophers, physicists, physicians, and people like one of the women with a ticket for B 209, who was seeing the show a second time because she had a “thing for Charlie Cox.”

What I saw on the way home: a dog on a walk and a pigeon that just wanted to walk, too.



I saw "Toast"

What I saw: “Toast,” a play, from the British playwright Richard Bean, at 59 East 59th Street, in New York, part of the Brits Off Broadway series.

What I wore: James jeans, gray Puma sneakers, black Eileen Fisher tank top, gray trees-and-rabbits print Steven Alan blouse that I enjoy wearing even though the fabric is scratchy,  gray cardigan with snaps, rag & bone scarf, no coat because it was just that nice out.

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What I did beforehand: my plan was to take the E, uptown, and meet the Bacon Provider for a little dinner beforehand. There were more confused people crowded around the ticket kiosks than I care to describe, so I employed a flanking maneuver; this resulted in my standing behind a woman who couldn’t add $50 to her subway ticket despite four tries. She gave up, warning me that the machine wasn’t working.  It worked for me. But I got off the subway at the wrong spot, and we were 30 minutes late to our reservation, and somehow, the staff at Aquavit still got us through a superlative three course meal with drinks and amuse bouche in 45 minutes without acting a bit rushed.

Who went with me: a lot of old people, and one young guy with Starbursts.

How I got tickets: online, a few days in advance.


Why I saw this show: email spam described it as robust and funny (and offered 10% off).

Where I sat: Row A, seat 6, between the youngest member of the audience, who was eating only red Starbursts, and a man who looked somewhat like Henry Kissinger, though sleepy and in jeans.

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Things that were sad: Henry Kissinger fell asleep in the front row. At intermission, he complained, “It’s six months until the election! Six months!”

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Things that were funny: this play is set in Hull, which is in the northern part of England and east of Manchester. The performer’s accents were particularly difficult to understand in the beginning, what with the funny vernacular of the workplace, and the odd turns of phrase of Yorkshire. Some characters are easier to understand than others, and certainly the best character in the show uttered mostly monosyllabic grunts. Careful, patient listeners will get into the groove of it quickly, as careful staging ensures some physical comedy as well. 

Things that were not funny: Some of the audience was quietly griping at intermission that they couldn’t understand the dialog. I think they could; I think they were worried they were missing something, or their companions were missing something. No one said, “Hey, I don’t understand what’s happening.” I 

What it is: a play, set in the break room of a bread-baking factory, performed in two acts, with one intermission. I felt some pride in recognizing the accent, and having heard of Hull (the Housemartin’s 1986 album, “London 0, Hull 4,” was one of my favorite cassettes, back in the mid-80s). The acting (and casting) was flawless. The script is well-structured and correctly paced. The second act is the strongest I’ve seen on Broadway this year. With nearly perfect lighting and sound design, the set itself is grim and disgusting and contributes in its humble, passive way to the hilarity. 
Who should not see it: gluten intolerant people, or anyone who requires at least one Trump joke. 

What I saw on the way home: lawyers and other human-shaped objects.


I saw "The Place We Built"

What I saw: “The Place We Built,” a play in two acts, with a fifteen minute intermission, at the Flea Theater, 41 White St., in TriBeCa 

What I wore: the black jeans that are really too long, the short boots with noisy heels, brown jersey top, long black Eileen Fisher cardigan which I’m ready to send to the cleaners and set aside in a moth-proof zippered bag until November but I’m still wearing to go out at night, darn it, because I don’t know what else to wear; red linen scarf that I bought a few years ago intending to give it to a friend for her birthday but I ended up keeping for myself.

What I did beforehand: rode the downtown A train

Who went with me: the Bacon Provider, in tan pants and shoes


How I got tickets: online, with a slight discount, thanks to the Flea Theater’s general admission pricing, where I guess tickets are cheaper the further in advance that you buy them.

Why I saw this show: I like the Flea Theater; we used to live next to their rehearsal space. 

Wine Threat

Where I sat: in the front, on the end, in a chair with very short legs, in front of some people who thought the chairs were uncomfortable, and near a young guy who responded audibly to a number of things in the play that he found too intense to allow to go without comment. On my other side was my husband, and next time him, a guy who brought a tiny flimsy plastic cup of wine into the theater and threatened repeatedly to spill it. Expecting him to finish the cup of wine in the fifteen minutes before the lights went down, we were disappointed to see that he intended to balance it in one hand, aiming for my husband’s tan pants, for the duration of the first act. 




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Things that were sad: democracy’s kind of a bitch when the ultra-nationalist right wing has a two-thirds majority and your prime minister rewrites the constitution every couple of years 

Things that were funny: afterwards, at dinner, there was a woman at a table next to us who I did not see eat anything. I mean, she didn’t even have stains on the paper where her crumbs would have been. She sipped from her glass of ice water and ignored her full glass of red wine. When it came time for dessert, she ordered a cup of hot water.

Things that were not funny: when the woman with the cup of hot water spilled the whole glass of red wine that she had not been drinking and it splashed on my husband’s tan pants and shoes.

What it is: a play about Hungary, and freedom of assembly and expression, and, also, about the indelibility of Hungarian anti-semitism. There are several songs performed, and these are the very best parts of the play. I think the show needs many more songs, especially the already strong final scene. 



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Who should see it: red wine drinkers, fans of creepy puppet shows about politicians, anti-anti-semites

What I saw on the way home: Afterwards, we had a reservation at the Odeon, on West Broadway. When we lived in this neighborhood, this was our favorite don’t-know-where-to-eat restaurant, and we hadn’t been back in a couple of years now. I spent a little time in the afternoon before the show thinking about what I wanted to order. When we got to the restaurant, we were 25 minutes past our reserved spot, and though I’d been told this wouldn’t be a problem when I made the reservation, they had given away our table and only had something quite small to squeeze us into. The Bacon Provider, still traumatized by the red wine threat, worsened by the panic of perhaps losing our reservation, sat down and announced that he wasn’t hungry. Somehow, though, the arrival of oysters and french bread with butter got him in the mood, and by the end of the meal I managed to convince him to have some dessert even. And, readers, they have tiny hot freshly made spoon-shaped doughnuts, served with raspberry puree and maple dipping sauce. Yes, the wine spilling was regrettable.

1978 Jackie Chan


But anyway on the A train back uptown there was 1978 Jackie Chan and the very fly, time-traveling detective pursuing him in the hopes of joining modern day Jackie Chan in restoring the rift in the time-space continuum before it’s too late.

White satin pants wearing time traveler