New York State of Mind Amoeblog #93: Jeff Koons, Shadow & Cut Chemist, Museum of Jewish Heritage, Subway Token Sucking +

Posted by Billyjam, August 13, 2014 12:13pm | Post a Comment

People seem to either love him or hate him (or are jealous of all the money he makes) but they all know who he is; American artist Jeff Koons whose instantly identifiable, simple-yet expensive, balloon-animal like, large scale sculptures made of stainless steel sell in the tens of millions of dollars. One of his pieces sold at a NYC auction last year for $58.4 million!  For a lot less money, now thru October October 19th, you can get to see his art up and close and personal and judge its value for itself for the ongoing Jeff Koons: A Retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art. With a total of 120 works by Koons on display this Whitney exhibit, which opened in late June, is the most comprehensive retrospective curated of the living artist to date (in fact there hasn't been a full show on his overall body of work in two decades) and as such is well worth visiting.  Spanning various mediums - not just sculpture - Koons work on exhibit includes such iconic works by the pop artist as the gaudy yet popular Michael Jackson and Bubbles (right), Balloon Dog, as well as the premiere exhibition of such new Koons pieces as the unveiling of his large scale Play-Doh that he's reportedly been busy working on for over twenty years. The Whitney Museum is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 11am to 6pm and is located at 945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street, New York, NY 10021. For general info click here. And for info on free tours here.

It is still a few weeks away but now is the  time to cop tickets for the anticipated upcoming cross-country Renegades of Rhythm Tour with  DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist when it stops for two nights (September 4th and 5th with the second night a late addition due to demand) in New York City at Irving Plaza. The tour's theme is all vinyl been spun by both DJs in honor of “Master of Records” Afrika Bambaataa's influence on hip-hop's beginnings. And as if to further prove his commitment to the format of vinyl, as well as a prequel to this with his longtime LA collaborator, yesterday the Bay Area based DJ Shadow launched a new record (all vinyl) label imprint entitled Liquid Amber with an EP of the same title. The nationwide tour, which kicks off on September 1st, arrives in New York City at Irving Plaza Sept. 3rd and 4th. Tix/info.
Most definitely a somber place to visit while in New York but nonetheless a most enlightening and worthwhile museum to check out is the Museum of Jewish Heritage: A Living Memorial to the Holocaust that is all the way downtown Manhattan in Battery Place. The memorial museum was specifically created as a living memorial to those who perished during the Holocaust and as such honors those who died by celebrating their lives, their living traditions, and "examining their achievements and faith, and affirming the vibrant worldwide Jewish community that is their legacy today" according to the museum curators who hope to teach new generations of all peoples how to "recognize and fight contemporary instances of injustice and oppression!"  Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust is located all the way downtown near the Staten Island Ferry building at Edmond J. Safra Plaza located at 36 Battery Place, New York, NY 10280. In addition to its regular programs and exhibits the museum presents a free summer film series each Wednesday. Today they will be screening Steven Spielberg's ET. The Extra Terrestrial  at 630pm today (August 13). Click here for more general info on the Museum of Jewish Heritage.

"Token sucking" is how this bygone era New York City low level crime was described by some.  The earlier decade NYC subway train caper dates back to when it was exclusively metro cards being used on the subway system - back when the long traditional subway token coin was still in use. A low level crime it was officially classified as "theft of Transit Authority property" but widely known as "token sucking" to the transit police officers who busted offenders.

As the NY Times wrote back in April 2003 in the last week of tokens, this was how "token sucking" went down - literally: "The criminal carefully jams the token slot with a matchbook or a gum wrapper and waits for a would-be rider to plunk a token down. The token plunker bangs against the locked turnstile and walks away in frustration. Then from the shadows, the token sucker appears like a vampire, quickly sealing his lips over the token slot, inhaling powerfully and producing his prize: a $1.50 token, hard earned and obviously badly needed."

And finally in honor of the legacy of the late great comedian/actor Robin Williams, who we sadly lost this week, I leave you with him in a great scene from the 1991 movie The Fisher King set in New York City. It's that wonderful dance scene filmed in Grand Central Terminal that everytime I walk through the midtown terminal I think of - only now that thought will be bittersweet knowing that Robin Williams is no longer with us.

Robin Williams in "The Fisher King" Grand Central Terminal dance scene

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