Self feels moved, for the first time ever, to quote from a Michiko Kakutani review. This one’s on the recent publication by Famous Publishers of Only The Best Fiction and Poetry (Farrar etc) of The Complete Poems by Philip Larkin. Here’s how the review begins:
“Deprivation is for me,” Philip Larkin once observed, “what daffodils were for Wordsworth.” He was right, of course: unhappiness, loss, disappointment, boredom and fear of death are the bread and butter of his verse. Larkin was the Eeyore of poets, the Debbie Downer of modern literature.
(It is really really funny that Kakutani compares Larkin to Eeyore and to Debbie Downer, but she gets even funnier with the very next sentence, which self will refrain from posting, as she realizes she is wading into muddy waters)
On p. 2 of the Arts section, self begins reading what sounds like it’s going to be a glowing review, by Brian Seibert, of a new ballet by Avi Scher, performed by ballet star Herman Cornejo. Self is intrigued by this sentence:
The young choreographer Avi Scher likes to say that he has a mission: presenting top-quality ballet dancers in intimate spaces at affordable prices.
For that alone: All Hail, Avi Scher!
Alas, the rest of the piece laments that Mr. Cornejo’s “gifts” were “wasted” by the choreography (“Emotional incoherence,” Mr. Seibert writes, is “typical” of Mr. Scher’s work): “For no apparent reason,” Seibert continues, “Ms. Kuranaga (partnered with Mr. Cornejo in the piece “Phased”), kept curling up on the floor like a pill bug . . . ” Uh. Self will stop right here. She feels so bad for Mr. Scher.
And then there’s The New York Times Crossword Puzzle, which self decides to skip, because only once in the past almost four decades of doing the Times Crossword Puzzle has self ever managed to solve a complete puzzle, and it is just mighty frustrating.
And then, in the “Arts, Briefly” column comes the real smasheroo: David Byrne and Fatboy Slim have collaborated on a new musical, which is purportedly (Self is so proud of herself: it’s not easy slipping a word like “purportedly” into a blog like hers) a “deconstruction of the rise and fall of Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of the Philippines.” Why oh why oh why oh why did David Byrne and Fatboy Slim decide that Imelda was a worthy subject for their sublime talents? Worse, what led them to feel that it should be staged at the Public, an icon of theater-dom, to presumably enthusiastic reverence and widespread applause?
When self was just a struggling 22-year-old administrative assistant, she used to live right around the corner from the Public, in a sublet on Eighth and First. How she saved and scrimped her miserable $800/month salary (Thanks much, Famous Accounting Firm of Ernst & Whinney!) just so she could watch every single one of the productions!
Of course the article is accompanied by a visual: there is Imelda in her trademark terno with — is that a peacock on the front? OK, some type of bird appliqué — and a hair-do that is something of a cross between the Amy Winehouse bee-hive and the Doris Day flip, of course lacquered to helmet-like perfection by the strenuous application of salon hairspray.
But wait — didn’t David Byrne, several years ago, decide to bike around Asia, and wasn’t one of his stops Manila? Self knows because the book he wrote about that experience was reviewed in The New York Times. So in his biking around Manila, he did display a very adventurous spirit, because, as dear blog readers well know, someone like David Byrne could have sat around all day in the lobby of the Peninsula sipping Remy Martin, if he had wanted to. After all, he is David Byrne.
And he probably likes Filipinos — as, who wouldn’t? Filipinos are the best, absolutely the fun-nest people on the entire planet! And he must have gotten to know a number of ordinary people — self means while he was biking around. He presumably didn’t tell people he met while biking: “Hello, I am David Byrne, famous lead singer and songwriter.” They probably thought of him as just another white adventurer, of the kind that are becoming more and more common in places like Bacolod and Dumaguete and Siquijor.
Self, haven’t you ever heard of the saying, Quit while you’re ahead?
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.