New York State of Mind Amoeblog #9: Macy's Parade, 12-12-12, Buckyball, Tracy Morgan, John Cage, Madison Square Park, Rev Billy +

Posted by Billyjam, November 21, 2012 02:08pm | Post a Comment

Now in week four of Superstorm Sandy recovery mode New York City takes another major stride in its return to normalcy by making a significant statement this week that things are well on their way to getting back on track with the big 86th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade all set and ready to go this week. Since this past weekend, when I took the photo above from the Herald Square front of the the world's largest department store (well until 2009 when the South Korean chain Shinsegae opened an even larger store) Macy's parade organizers had everything in place - much to the approval of the business minded Mayor Bloomberg who knows the bottom line dollar value of such tourist attractions for his city that will attract an estimated 3 million sightseers along its route.

Expect to hear many references to Sandy and the resilience of its victims during Thursday's big parade TV broadcast that an estimated 50 million will watch. If you are in NYC on Thanksgiving Day the parade starts at 9am in the Upper West Side at 77th Street by Central Park West and heads down to Columbus Circle, then left onto Central Park South, right on Sixth Ave and down to Herald Square by Macy's. This year’s performers and celebrities will include Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Trace Adkins, Big Apple Circus, Chica and the crew from Sprout, Colbie Caillat, Rachel Crow Jimmy Fallon & The Roots, Flo Rida, Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Isaak, Carly Rae Jepsen, Karmin, Kidz Bop, Mannheim Steamroller, Miss USA 2012 – Olivia Culpo; the Muppets and cast of Sesame Street, The Wanted and many more. More guests and general parade info here.

Of course the negative fallout of the unprecedented superstorm continues to be felt but so too are the good deeds of those who are helping in the long slow recovery process. These include the big concert benefit at Madison Square Garden on December 12th and hence titled 12-12-12 that was announced last week for the 20,000 capacity midtown venue with a lineup that includes Kanye West, Paul McCartney, Alicia Keys, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, The Who, Jon Bon Jovi, and Roger Waters. Note that many are speculating that the Rolling Stones may also make a surprise appearance at the benefit since Jagger & Co. are in town that same week doing shows in both nearby Brooklyn and Newark. Still no official word on that yet though. All proceeds of this benefit concert will go to the Robin Hood Relief Fund; the group that has been tirelessly supplying victims of Sandy with food and clothing since the storm hit three and a half weeks ago. For tickets to and more information on 12-12-12 at Madison Square Garden.

Located about a dozen blocks away from the similarly named Madison Square Garden is Madison Square Park in the Flatiron District which is bordered by East 26th and 23rd Streets to the north and south, and by 5th and Madison Aves to the west and east, New York’s Madison Square Park seems to always have something fun and engaging on exhibit. The park, which is also home to the original, eight year old Shake Shack (small 14 outlet chain with half in NYC of high quality burgers & milk shakes etc. that is well worth a visit when in NYC - despite the long lines), is constantly hosting all kinds of cool art installations - all part of the ongoing Madison Square Park Art program.

A few months ago when I stopped by they had a wonderful collection of about half a dozen interactive musical sculptures scattered around the park titled Pet Sounds. Similar only in title to the famous Beach Boys album that hands on art installation comprised of a series of large scale blob-shaped sound sculptures that emitted certain sounds when you touched the brightly colored sculptures. This week when I stopped by (in the evening which is the best time) I got to witness the wonderful giant elevated ever changing neon lighted round sculpture named Buckyball.

Designed and created by famed light installation artist Leo Villareal the complex mathematically based spherical sculpture was named after, and references the work of, designer, inventor, architect, and engineer Buckminster  "Bucky" Fuller. Buckyball is in fact two giant round ball like sculptures: one inside the other that are technically geodesic spheres comprised of 180 LED-tubes which are carefully arranged into a series of hexagons and pentagons - containing thousands of individual pixels that offer up to (wait for it) 16 million distinct colors!  The 30-foot Buckyball stands perched atop a ten foot high metal stage. To the base of and surrounding the glow-in-the-dark spherical sculpture are a series of "zero gravity couches" - also designed by the artist - that are made of wood and perfect to lie back and relax into while enjoying the slow moving lights of Buckyball that are controlled by custom software that was designed by Villareal. Although dress warmly for this informal evening light show. The park closes at midnight each night and the free exhibit is on view through February 1, 2013. For more info on the park and exhibit.

John Cage at the MoMA, but in silence. Described by the museum's chief curator of prints and illustrated books Christophe Cherix as somewhere, "between music and art, a score but also a drawing" - the current Museum of Modern Art (aka MoMA) John Cage exhibit is worth seeing. Simple but significant it is made up of just three folded sheets of paper, the recent era artifact is the earliest extant version of “4’33,” ” - John Cage’s composition consisting entirely of silence. Cage's composition, done in the early fifties, was written in three movements and lasting 4 minutes 33 seconds, during which time the performer never touches a note. This version of the piece was recently acquired by the museum and should be of interest to fans of John Cage and experimental music.

While most Americans will be out shopping or working in stores this (Black) Friday Rev Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir (whose roots are in the Bay Area) will be out preaching against consumerism. Rev. Billy and a pared down version of his choir will stop by my WFMU radio show on Friday (Homeboy Sandman will also be my guest this week) to preach and perform and talk about their big show on Sunday, November 25th at 1pm at the Highline Ballroom on West 16th Street.

Meanwhile comedian/actor/30 Rock star Tracy Morgan (right) will be doing his stand up routine at famous NYC comedy club Carolines in the Times Square district (1626 Broadway) on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (Nov 23, 24, 25) with two shows Sat and Sun. Tix $60. More info. And on Saturday night (November 24) is a great throwback hip-hop party called I Love Vinyl featuring The World's Famous Supreme Dream Team deejays: The Twilite Tone, Ge-Ology, Jon Oliver, Scribe, and Amir that takes place at The Gallery at LPR (Le Poisson Rouge) in the Village at 158 Bleecker St. near NYU. Goes until 4am. Doors 10pm 21+ $10 RSVP here for reduced admission before 11pm.

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Bruce Springsteen (24), Sandy Superstorm (1), Buckyball (1), John Cage (15), Alicia Keys (6), New York State Of Mind (92), Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (1)