MoMA and WNYC follow-up

Here’s a quick follow-up on two subjects I’ve posted about recently. First, WNYC announced today that they’re keeping New Sounds, after previously announcing that they were canceling it (and all their other music programming) a couple of weeks ago. This is really good news, and I think it might inspire me to actually listen to New Sounds more often.

Second, MoMA is now open to the public, and the NY Times has run a couple more articles about it:

The Times may have overdone their MoMA reopening coverage. I think I’ve seen six articles about it so far, and I’m not even really looking for them. I probably missed a few. But hey, it’s still interesting to me, and I guess it really is the kind of thing you’d expect the Times to cover thoroughly. I really did enjoy the member preview. I’ll probably go in again at some point in the next month, if I can. Hopefully, the crowds won’t be too bad.

Paperback Writers

I just noticed that the Paperback Writers series on BBC Radio 6 features Warren Ellis, today at 1 PM, in whatever time zone the BBC uses. So that might be in ten minutes, or possibly an hour and ten minutes. I’m not sure. Either way, I’m going to try to listen to it live. (I also need to go back and listen to Neil Gaiman’s episode before it disappears.)

New Sounds

I read in the Times last week that WNYC is dropping New Sounds, after 37 years on the air. I think I started listening to New Sounds when I was in high school, so I guess I was in on it almost from the start. It’s always aired at 11 PM on weeknights, so that’s usually past my bedtime. But I used to stay up late sometimes, back when I was a lot younger. I know that I discovered a few artists on New Sounds that I still love, like Brian Eno and Harold Budd. I remember first hearing their album The Pearl on New Sounds. Coincidentally, I just heard Late October from that album on BBC Radio 3 a couple of days ago (via my Sonos One). It was an unexpected surprise, and a nice way to start my morning.

Both New Sounds and a show called Synthetic Pleasure on WFMU were responsible for me expanding my musical horizons beyond classic rock and getting into electronic music and other experimental stuff,  back when I was a kid. These days, I get most of my electronic/ambient music from podcasts, like Monday Graveyard and Future Astronauts, and from recommendations in Warren Ellis’ newsletter.

If there was an easy way to time-shift New Sounds and listen to it as a podcast, I’d be listening to it regularly too. It’s easy enough to listen to it online, but no easy way to download it. And there’s a 24/7 New Sounds stream that I can listen to on my Sonos, but it’s not quite the same as listening to the actual show.

It’s kind of amazing that the show has lasted so long, at the same station, in the same time slot, with the same great host, John Schaefer. But I guess all good things must come to an end. The Times article says that WNYC will work with Schaefer “to find a new home for the New Sounds brand.” I hope they come up with something to keep New Sounds going, in some format. Clicking around on Twitter and Facebook, I see that there’s some grassroots efforts going on to save the show. I hope that leads somewhere positive, whether it means the show stays on WNYC, or moves to WQXR, or even if it goes online-only.

Streaming Ghibli

I blogged about Studio Ghibli (specifically Miyazaki) films back in August. I was thinking about trying to catch up on any Miyazaki films I hadn’t gotten around to seeing. I was surprised at the time to discover that none of them were available digitally in the US, either for sale or rent, or on one of the pay-per-month streaming services. Since then, I’ve watched a few, by the relatively old-school method of checking them out from my local library on DVD.

Just a few days ago, Otaku USA posted an article with the title “No Plans for Studio Ghibli Films to Hit Streaming Services,” so it looked like they were still holding out. Then yesterday I saw an article in the Times saying that the films will start streaming on the new HBO Max service starting some time next year. I guess that’s cool, if it allows more people to see great stuff like Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. But I’d kind of liked that Ghibli was still holding out, and that you had to make at least a little effort to “find” their films. Once the films are on HBO Max, will we still have stuff like Ghibli Fest? Or the cool special edition Blu-Rays from GKids? (Eh, ignore me, I’m just a cranky old man. I’m sure GKids will be happy to keep selling Blu-Rays to weirdos like me. Or I can always hit eBay for used DVDs.)

NJ Transit

I stumbled across this headline in the NY Times yesterday, and briefly thought that they’d actually come up with a deal to replace or repair the Portal Bridge: “This New Jersey Bridge Will No Longer Sabotage Rush Hour.” But no, they’ve only come up with a deal to avoid opening it during rush hour. So it’s still going to sabotage weekend riders like me. (The headline is more direct: “The rusty, commute-killing Portal Bridge will never open during rush hour again.”) The current status of the Portal Bridge replacement project is still, basically, stalled and going nowhere, as far as I can tell.

Meanwhile, the North Jersey Coast Line 2606 has been declared “the Very Worst Commuter Train in America” in a NY Times article. And NJ Transit has canceled as many as 29 trains in one day, due to a lack of engineers. But, hey, they added seven new engineers yesterday, so that’s a good sign. But, as the article points out, “they need a staff of 400 qualified engineers to avoid service interruptions. The current complement is 343.”

post-MoMA trip report

OK, so this isn’t really going to be much of a “report,” but I needed a title for the post, so here we are. Per my earlier post, I did indeed head into New York for the MoMA reopening preview. My verdict: I liked it! (Keep in mind that I’m a computer nerd and not an art and/or architecture critic.) There’s a lot more space, and they’ve certainly used it to display a lot of art. Some of it is stuff I like, and some isn’t, and that’s all OK. I managed to locate most of my favorite stuff from the “old MoMA,” including Monet’s Water Lilies, a couple of Pollocks, and Ruscha’s OOF. (Somehow I completely missed Starry Night. I know it’s in there somewhere though.) A lot of the new stuff (or at least “new to me” stuff) was interesting. Some was puzzling. Some was funny. And some was just “meh.”

The preview was well-attended but not too crowded. (And it’s always nice to visit MoMA on a day when there aren’t going to be any tourists there.) It’ll be interesting to see what the new MoMA is like on a “normal” day, with the usual crowds of tourists. Will the larger space allow the crowds to thin out a bit? Will the crowds congregate around the popular exhibits and leave some other areas a bit sparse? Will the larger space just attract bigger crowds? (Probably that last one is most likely.)

I’ve uploaded some random photos from today here. And the last one is a photo of my lunch. MoMA’s two cafes weren’t open for the preview, so I had to go somewhere else to eat. I decided to go to La Bonne Soupe, a small French restaurant I first went to back when I was in high school. It’s only about a block from MoMA. It’s kind of cool that a restaurant I went to so long ago is still in business, in the same spot, and with nearly the same decor and menu. (Well, OK, there are a bunch of changes to the menu, but they still have some of the old classics.) I had a $22 lamb burger and an $8 beer. Both were good, though maybe not “$30 total” good.

The last thing I want to mention: The NJ Transit train broke down on the way home, and I had to take an Uber the rest of the way home. Initially, I waited on the train to see if they’d get it working again, but decided to bail out after 10 or 15 minutes. I figured they’d probably get it running again right as my Uber showed up, but I just checked, and nope, they had to cancel it. So if I’d stayed, I’d have been stuck for a full hour. Not a big deal for me, but I feel bad for people who rely on NJT these days, and don’t have a lot of spare cash for Ubers and Lyfts. They’re having a lot of these delays and cancellations lately, and it doesn’t seem to be getting better.

a bit more on the MoMA reopening

Following up on yesterday’s post, here are two more articles from the Times on the MoMA reopening.

First, Holland Carter’s general review of the new MoMA. It’s a pretty positive review. He gets a little cynical near the end:

My guess is that in some hopefully ever-improving version, this 21st century MoMA will work, if only for self-preservative reasons. Multicultural is now marketable. To ignore it is to forfeit profit, not to mention critical credibility. And the new MoMA is obviously tailored to a new and younger audience, one that has no investment, nostalgic or otherwise, in the old pre-Taniguchi model, which now lives on mostly in the memories of a fading population (…).

I guess I’m old enough to be part of that “fading population,” but I am interested in seeing what they’ve done with the place. As long as I can still find Monet’s Water Lilies in there somewhere.

The second article, Backstage at the Modern, is a short piece from the Times Magazine.

I plan on hopping on a train today and going to the member preview, so hopefully I can share my own opinions later today.

MoMA reopening

I’m currently several months behind in reading the stuff in my email “read/review” folder. So far behind, in fact, that I just hit two NYT articles about MoMA’s closing, from back in February:

MoMA to Close, Then Open Doors to More Expansive View of Art

MoMA, the New Edition: From Monumental to Experimental

I may or may not have read them (and/or posted them here) when they were published. (February is a long time ago. Also, apparently, the Patriots won the Super Bowl. Sigh.) The first one is a straightforward news article, and the second is a “Critic’s Notebook” piece by Holland Carter.

And here are two more recent articles, now that the reopening is almost here:

The New MoMA Is Here. Get Ready for Change.

With a $450 Million Expansion, MoMA Is Bigger. Is That Better?

The first is a fairly long feature article and the second is a “Critic’s Notebook” piece, by Michael Kimmelman, more about the architecture than the art. It’s a pretty interesting piece that digs into the history of the site, and includes some diagrams showing how the museum’s footprint has grown over the years. I have mixed feelings about the way Manhattan has evolved recently, with so many new “supertall” skyscrapers, like the 53W53 one that’s now tied into MoMA, but I don’t want to go too far down that rabbit hole today.

The first day for member previews is tomorrow, Sunday. Since I was in NYC last weekend for NYCC, I wasn’t really thinking about going back again this weekend, but I think I probably will. The weather looks pretty reasonable, and I’m feeling mostly recuperated from the con.


NYCC 2019 wrap-up

I’m back home from NYCC, so I might as well write one more post about my trip. I didn’t go to the con on Sunday. Instead, I took a walk from my hotel up to the Met. I took a fairly circuitous and leisurely route through Central Park. It was a pretty good day to do that. It was a nice autumn day, and Central Park on a Sunday morning was certainly more quiet and peaceful than NYCC would have been. At the Met, I went into the members preview for The Last Knight exhibit. (The title of the exhibit is quite similar to the title of the new Scott Snyder Batman series, Last Knight on Earth, but they are definitely not related in any way!) I then walked down to the Breuer and saw the two exhibits that are currently running there. The Vija Celmins exhibit was pretty interesting. A lot of her “Night Sky” paintings are cool.

My hotel was just right across the street from MoMA, so it would have been easy to go over there too, but they’re still not open. They will be opening to the public October 21, with member previews next weekend. I’ll probably miss the member preview, since I’m going to have other stuff to do this coming weekend. But maybe I can get in on Sunday. The NY Times has a lengthy article about the reopening that I haven’t had time to read yet. I did peek through the windows at MoMA, and it looks like they’ve enlarged the gift shop, which isn’t a surprise. That was about all I could really see. I’m definitely curious to see what they’ve done to the place.

Back on the subject of NYCC, The Beat published a Sunday wrap-up article that includes links to all (or most) of their NYCC content over the whole con. This includes a write-up of the big Castlevania panel that I missed. It sounds like it wasn’t that different from what I saw of those guys at the Viz panel, just longer and with more of the cast and crew present. And there’s a write-up of the Star Trek panel for Discovery and Picard. That one would have been fun to go to, but I imagine it would have involved waiting in a very long line and was probably quite crowded. I just found a reddit thread talking about the panel and various other NYCC Star Trek items. It turns out that there was also a Star Trek panel as part of PaleyFest during the con. If I’d known about that, I might have gone to that one, since you have to buy tickets in advance for PaleyFest panels, so it wouldn’t have been one of those “wait in line for two hours and hope you get in” things. Oh well. I’ll try to keep a closer eye on Paley Center stuff in the future. I should probably sign up for their mailing list.

Despite being fairly interested in Discovery and Picard, I still haven’t talked myself into paying for a CBS All-Access subscription. Nor have I managed to convince myself to shell out for a DC Universe subscription, despite some interest in a few of the shows on that service. Any time I get too tempted to subscribe to DCU, I remind myself that I just bought a Blu-Ray box set of the complete Batman Adventures, and I should probably just watch that if I’m keen to see some superhero action on my TV. (And I’ve got the new seasons of Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, and Batwoman to look forward to also!)

I’ve spent a little time reflecting on whether or not I learned anything from this year’s con, and whether or not I’ll go back for next year’s one. Here are a few takeaways:

  • I surprised myself a bit, in that I made it through four days in NYC carrying around a backpack and getting in 20k+ steps each day, without really much back pain or any major trouble sleeping. Yes, I did bail out on a few things, but I still did quite a lot.
  • After five nights of pretty decent sleep on a hotel mattress, I think I’ve almost convinced myself that I need to buy myself a new mattress. Depending on how I feel tomorrow morning, after my first night back on my own mattress, I might have to start getting serious about that.
  • There might be a few new things that I’m curious about, but I’m not really jumping on any bandwagons right now. I have such a huge backlog of stuff to read and watch that I can’t add anything new unless it’s really great.

So it’s back to the old daily grind tomorrow. I haven’t checked my work email since Wednesday, so there should be a good pile of stuff to go through when I get in tomorrow morning. (Yes, technically I could check it now from home and clean it up a bit, but I really don’t want to!)

NYCC day three, part two

OK, so this post is an end-of-day wrap-up post, which I’m writing in my hotel room on Saturday evening, because I bailed out on the con early. I had a pretty good morning at the con, and went to the DC Year of the Villain panel, and a Mutts panel with Patrick McDonnell. Here’s a write-up on the DC panel. Nothing unusual came out of that one. Just more talk about what’s coming up in the Year of the Villain event.

The Mutts panel was a lot of fun. It was mostly to promote the new Mutts book The Art of Nothing. It looks like a really nice book. McDonnell did a slideshow of various old bits of Mutts and pre-Mutts art and ephemera. I guess I never really knew much about him or his history. I was surprised to learn that he’d once been in a punk band that used to open for The Ramones. I don’t really read any daily comic strips anymore, and I’d kind of forgotten that Mutts was even still running, but now I’m finding myself thinking about picking up this book. (I’m also thinking that maybe binge-reading a bunch of old Mutts strips might be a good antidote to reading about current events, so I’m going to keep that idea in my back pocket for possible future use.)

I fully intended on hanging out all day at the con, and going to the 3:30 Adam Savage panel and the 6:30 Castlevania panel, but it all got to be a bit much and I bailed out around 1 PM. I went off and did some other stuff, skipping the Adam Savage panel, and came back around 5 PM for the Castlevania panel. But again, the con was just a bit too crazy for me and I bailed out again.

So my plan for the rest of the night is to maybe watch some TV then go to bed early again. I feel kind of bad about that, but not too bad. I’m on vacation and trying to relax, and if hanging out watching Supergirl on my iPad is more relaxing than fighting crowds and waiting in lines at Javits, then that’s fine.

I don’t really have much that I want to do at the con tomorrow, so I think I’m going to bail on it entirely and go to The Met instead. I think that will be more my speed. After that, maybe I’ll hit a couple more museums and wander around the city a bit. Then back home on Monday morning and back to reality.