Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

$3000-a-Ticket Concert Series in the Hamptons Fails Miserably

From a Dave Matthews fan:

I guess they cant sell any tickets!! i am against Dave doing this concert, so I have forwarded you an email that I received from the Fan Club:

 “Greetings from theWarehouse: We are pleased to invite you to join Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds for a once-in-a-lifetime concert experience this Saturday evening, July 28 in East Hampton, NY. As many of you may have heard, Dave and Tim are performing a semi-private benefit for the Ross School in East Hampton. We have just been offered a limited number [ha – see below] of specially priced tickets for the benefit concert which we areoffering to Warehouse members that have purchased Randall’s Island VIP tickets. The all-inclusive ticket includes luxurious seating, world class food featuring the BBQ stylings of executive chef Adam Perry Lang, a top shelf open bar, plus pre and post showentertainment. The tickets are extremely limited and will be sold first come-first serve at $250 per ticket/$500 per pair. All proceeds from this special ticket sale will benefit charity with half of the proceeds to benefit Dave Matthews’ Horton Foundation and the other

half to benefit Ross School. Dave and Tim tickets may be purchased by calling (800) 803-6644 and mentioning the access code “Trax”. For more information about the concert, please visit http://www.discoversocial.com”

 

Now for the back story: Social is a five concert series in the Hamptons this month designed to rope in all the Wall Street trash at vertigo-inducing prices, to wit, three grand a ticket. A five-concert pass was going for what must be an alltime record, $15,000…except as you can see from the above email, tickets have now been discounted at over 90%…and they’re still a ripoff. Maybe the new robber barons aren’t so stupid after all: money may be no object, but nobody likes to come off as a sucker, which is what anyone who’s just plopped down $3 – I mean $3000 – for Dave Matthews looks like.  

July 25, 2007 Posted by | Culture, Music, Rant | Leave a comment

Film Review: Joshua

Giving away the ending to a film may be the biggest faux pas a reviewer can commit, but what if the film doesn’t have an ending? That seems to be the case with Joshua: it’s as if the producers of this low-budget indie suspense flick ran out of money three-quarters of the way through and decided to wrap it up on the spot rather than looking for new backers. So we’re supposed to believe that little Joshua did all those bad things simply because he’s gay – he’s NINE YEARS OLD, for chrissakes!?!?! – and all he wants to do is get away from his family and hang out with his swishy uncle?

It’s too bad the movie ends that way (looks like the producers ran out of money for focus groups too), because getting there is a good ride. Joshua (Jacob Kogan, marvelously deadpan and eerie in his screen debut) lives with his yuppie parents (Brad, played by Sam Rockwell and Vera, played by Laurie Metcalfe lookalike Vera Farmiga) and his newborn sister in an impossibly large apartment on New York’s upper east side. Dad is a clueless type who seems to be sleepwalking through parenthood and his job at a nameless Wall Street financial house; mom had trouble with postpartum depression after Joshua was born, and it seems to be happening again, worse than before.

Trouble follows Joshua like New Jersey cops after a carful of black people. The gerbils in his classroom have mysteriously died, his little sister cries for no reason, constantly waking screaming up in the middle of the night, and his mother does the same thing. Drawing heavily on The Bad Seed and the original When a Stranger Calls as well as the Stephen King playbook, co-writer/director George Ratliff finds dread everywhere, in the most mundane places. There’s one scene where the door to an appliance – can’t tell you which one – opens, that pushes the scare factor way into the red. Otherwise, the director gets the max out of his low-budget set (the film is shot mostly in the apartment, with a few outdoor scenes at the Brooklyn Museum and what appears to be Morningside Park), shooting into the shadows for what turns out to be usually not there.

The film’s best scene finds Joshua onstage at a piano recital. He’s been practicing Bartok (not implausible: he’s talented, and Kogan actually learned how to play a few of the pieces that appear on camera), but what he pulls out of the woodwork has to be the most eerie musical moment to appear in any film drama since Michael Caine did his immortal, faux-badly-sung version of Roy Orbison’s It’s Over in Little Voice. Joshua keels over immediately after finishing his little jam. Yet nobody gets what’s going on (the filmmakers could have had a lot more fun satirizing pampered New York yuppie parents than they do).

After something particularly nasty happens to Joshua’s bible-thumping, proselytizing grandmother (played to the hilt by Celia Weston), Brad seems to get the picture, but he can’t stop what’s about to happen. And then the movie ends, before any hell breaks loose: Joshua could have gone on for another 15 suspenseful minutes and wound up either on a deliciously grisly or righteously just note. It screams out for a remake. David Cronenberg, people will have forgotten all about this in ten years’ time, are you listening?

July 25, 2007 Posted by | Film, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Big Papi – My Story of Big Dreams and Big Hits, by David Ortiz and Tony Massarotti

Big Papi – My Story of Big Dreams and Big Hits, by David Ortiz and Tony Massarotti

St. Martin’s, 288 pp., hardcover, $24.95, ISBN-13: 978-0312366339

Also available in Spanish as Big Papi – La Historia de Mis Anhelos y Mis Grandes Batazos

The truth in any contemporary book by a sports hero is always in the ellipses, what isn’t said, what’s between the lines. No doubt this was vetted before publication by an army of lawyers, so as not to offend anyone associated with Major League Baseball or, perish the thought, sully the game’s reputation. You assuredly won’t find anything revealing here unless you look for it. Suffice it to say that the days of hilarious tell-alls like Jim Bouton’s Ball Four or Sparky Lyle and Peter Golenbock’s The Bronx Zoo – or Jim Brosnan’s thoughtful, introspective The Long Season – are long over, gone with the days of affordable box seats, a single best-of-five pennant playoff series, and ninth-inning beer in the bleachers.

This book seems to be based on a hastily conducted series of spring training interviews, most likely translated from Ortiz’ native Spanish (he’s Dominican). For those who’ve somehow managed to avoid the hype, David Ortiz is the most feared slugger in the American League, a large man with a devastating lefthanded swing who last season led the league in home runs, setting the Boston Red Sox single-season record in the process. Three years ago, his extra-inning heroics led the Red Sox to a historic comeback against the Yankees in the playoffs, followed by the Red Sox’ first World Championship in 86 years. Perhaps most notably, the Red Sox got him for free when the power-starved Minnesota Twins, fearing that Ortiz’ considerable girth would increase his already significant penchant for injuries, gave him the pink slip after the 2002 season. All this is contained in the book, along with the following:

– Ortiz calls everybody “bro” or “papi” (hence his nickname, “Big Papi”),

– He grew up poor but not destitute, more fortunate than his friend Pedro Martinez, the great pitcher and Dominican folk hero who he credits with saving his career

– He was very close to his mother, and losing her in an auto accident was understandably traumatic (though he glosses over it)

– Like many other Latin players, he used another name (David Arias) during much of his time in the minor leagues

– Dominicans in the Major Leagues share a loyalty to each other beyond any team affiliation, bonding together because they can’t stand the blandness of American food

– Ortiz likes to cook, and one suspects his popularity with his colleagues stems from his fondness for working the grill (though, sadly, we don’t find out anything else about his gustatory talents or predilections: no recipes, no favorite foods, no guide to the best Dominican takeout joints around the majors).

Other things you learn from this book, although its authors might not want you to:

– Although Ortiz seems to be universally well-liked among his peers, he comes across as a fiercely proud, impetuous character who does things his way and his way only

– In the minors, he won accolades not only for his hitting but also his fielding (which makes sense: contrary to conventional wisdom, he remains a perfectly adequate first baseman).

– He’d much prefer to play in the field than serve as the designated hitter

– He explains away his mysterious hospitalization for a rapid heartbeat during a crucial series against the Yankees as being due to “stress” (come on, this is the guy who almost singlehandedly vaulted the Sox into the World Series with one crucial clutch performance after another, and he’s talking about STRESS???). While Ortiz seems to be the least likely guy in the majors to be doing steroids (he’s too fat – although he insists he isn’t), there may be other plausible reasons, including but not limited to the little things that ballplayers have been using to get a little extra pep since the 1950s.

There’s next to nothing in here about the legendary camaraderie of the Sox’ 2004 World Championship team (and its subsequent demise), nothing about Ortiz’ friendship with teammate and fellow Dominican Manny Ramirez, nothing about his vaunted swing, opposing pitchers or for that matter any juicy tales from the clubhouse, the backyard barbeque, the strip club or wherever Ortiz and his pals hang out.

To offer enough heft to justify its pricetag, the book is puffed out with “appreciations” of Ortiz’ talent as well as a tortuously long mea culpa by Twins General Manager Terry Ryan, explaining how he let the most feared slugger in the American League walk away, getting nothing in return: you end up feeling really sorry for the guy, listening to him go on and on, reliving one of the worst errors in judgment that any big league exec ever made.

Strictly for diehards: one suspects that the Spanish-language version is the more popular of the two editions available.

July 25, 2007 Posted by | Culture, Literature, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments