My 3 Things - March 2016

1. LISTENING: Vintage Tina Turner "Proud Mary"
These past few weeks, I've been going out to see a lot of music and I've been making a lot of my own. The rough and tumble of that much input and output calls for a little smudging of my soul.  Vintage Tina always does the trick.

 

2. ART-ING: Giorgio Morandi at the Center for Italian Modern Art
Restraint. Delicateness. Discernment. Patience. Process. Subtlety. 

These words describe Morandi's paintings and are the reason why I am drawn like a magnet to his work.

A friend took me on a surprise adventure to the luminous, spacious SOHO apartment that is The Center for Italian Modern Art (CIMA) to see an incredible Giorgio Morandi exhibit. Unless you find yourself in Bologna and want to visit Casa Morandi, were Morandi lived, worked, and died, there is no better place to see Morandi's work right now than in NYC at CIMA.

The show is small and perfectly paced. There are only about 40 paintings, mostly from the 1930s, thought by many to be his most intense decade of exploration and growth. Everything Morandi became known for -- the vases and bottles, the table top arrangements, the muted palette, the point of view experiments, the monumentality of simple things -- is here. Watch an idea develop over the course of two or three paintings: subtle variations in color, slight rearrangements of shapes on the table top, paint applied thinly or with a rich impasto. And since CIMA is only open for small guided tours of 10 people or less on Fridays and Saturdays, you can linger as long as you like. A beautiful research fellow (male or female) will even make you an espresso in the straight-out-of-an-Italian-design-magazine kitchen.  It was very hard to leave. 

Luckily, I can go back. The show is up until June 25, 2016. If you live in NYC or are thinking of visiting, you still have time to see it. Reservations are required and the tours sell out weeks in advance. I might see you there. I'll be the one sitting on the stylish, modern couch in front of the fireplace, looking at the two paintings over the mantelpiece, watching the light change, watching myself change, reflecting on patience, process, and restraint.

 

3. SEEING: "Hamilton" by Lin-Manuel Miranda on Broadway
Yes. I'm one of the lucky ones. And yes, it lived up to its hype. But beyond all the amazingness you've (no doubt) heard about -- the rapping, the reimagining of history and race -- what was most amazing was watching the watchers, reflecting the zeitgeist that "Hamilton" surely is.

Some things you should know: I did not read anything about Hamilton before seeing it.  I was vaguely aware of its trajectory and the trajectory of it's writer, composer, and lead, Lin-Manuel Miranda, but only because I live in NYC and these things you hear by osmosis. Although friends in foreign countries told me they were listening to the score everyday, I was never moved to. I don't own a TV, so I didn't see Hamilton on the Grammy's, though of course I heard about it the next day. I went to the show about as clean-slated as one can go. I had tickets in the nose-bleed section, nearly the last row of the theater. Up there, the pitch of the seats is so steep you flirt with vertigo. The stage resembles a diorama, set at knee height, half way across the room, the actors three-quarters size.

As soon as the lights dimmed, the crowd went wild. Two young women behind me sang and rapped along from the very first words. They pre-giggled, pre-sighed, and pre-swooned before the entrance of each of the swaggering, main characters. At the end of Lin-Manuel Miranda's first number, as the theater erupted with screams and a crush of never-ending applause, I said to myself: "This isn't Broadway. This is a rock concert."

Indeed. There's something going on here, a ripeness in the culture for everything Hamilton represents and does so well: the SNL/Colbert-ness of the humor, the rap braggadocio of the main characters, the musical allusions to specific rappers (Tupac, Notorious B.I.G.), the mash-up of music (Destiny's Child, Fugees, Tin Pan Alley, Les Miz, harpsichord fugues, Beetles pop), the beloved Broadway tropes of recurring songs and mirrored scenes. Would Hamilton be such a big hit if it wasn't preceded by a decade of musical TV and movies like American Idol, Glee, and Pitch Perfect 1 and 2, if it didn't exist in the age of Spotify and Youtube? But there are other musicals on Broadway now and they aren't inspiring such froth and frenzy in the culture. 

This is Hamilton's moment, for sure. I'm looking forward to looking back on this time when I'll be able to more skillfully and articulately parse the forces at play. For now, I'm content to marvel and be swept up in the spectacle.