Busy as usual–I’m still playing catch-up after my sick week–but at least everything I’m doing is worthwhile in one way or another. Most recently:
– Last night I saw New York City Ballet dance what is known to balletomanes as “the Greek program”: a triple bill of George Balanchine’s Apollo, Orpheus, and Agon, each one set to a commissioned score by Igor Stravinsky. The company doesn’t dance the Greek program very often, and it’s always an event. I brought a jazz musician who’s just getting into ballet at my behest. He’d already seen Apollo, which he finds a bit puzzling, but he couldn’t say enough good things about Orpheus and Agon. (Neither can I.)
As for me, this was the first time I’d been to NYCB since turning in the manuscript of All in the Dances: A Brief Life of George Balanchine, and it happens that I’ll be devoting most of the weekend to copyediting queries and my own final revisions, so it was nice to spend an evening with Mr. B just before settling down to polish the book I wrote about him.
– After I got home, I watched Steven Soderbergh’s The Limey, a film I hadn’t seen since its theatrical release five years ago. (A friend of mine has a refrigerator magnet that says, “Time Flies, Whether You’re Having Fun or Not.”) Unlike Sexy Beast, another indie flick of the same vintage that I recently viewed and found rather less impressive than my memories of it (though Ben Kingsley is every bit as good as I’d thought), The Limey holds up and then some. A devastating neo-noir look at what the Sixties wrought, it’s the only film of Soderbergh’s since sex, lies, and videotape that’s made me think there’s more to him than his reputation.
– I’ve been reading Nolan Porterfield’s Jimmie Rodgers: The Life and Times of America’s Blue Yodeler. It’s an extreme rarity, an academic biography about an American popular musician that is both lucidly written and critically convincing. Published in 1979, it remains one of the very best books of its kind.
– I managed to rearrange my schedule and take Wednesday night off, and spent it rehanging the Teachout Museum in order to make room for a new acquisition, Fairfield Porter’s Ocean I. (Click on the link and scroll down to see a reproduction of the print in its two-color second state–I bought a copy of the first state, printed in three colors.) This ended up being quite an exhausting and comical process, since I had to schlep a heavy box containing the Porter down a long city block, drag it up two flights of stairs, then spend an hour or so rearranging the collection accordingly. Remember how hot it was on Wednesday? Well, I have high ceilings, and it was really hot up there. Consequently, I spent the better part of two hours sweating like an art-loving hog, perched on a rickety ladder in a highly advanced state of undress, which sort of suggests a porno movie for perverts with a sense of humor. On the other hand, the Teachout Museum now looks even more beautiful, so I guess it was worth it, right?
– Now playing on iTunes: Bill Frisell’s arrangement for solo acoustic guitar of “My Man’s Gone Now,” available on Ghost Town. It’s perfect–cool, spare, pensive. I wish he’d make a whole album just like that.