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NY Times Article Re Koch Theater


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#31 Quiggin

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Posted 07 November 2009 - 10:09 AM

It's interesting that Gates who has developed the devilish software system is so publicly generous and that Apple which has developed the angelic software system has a rather obscure philanthropic program -- one of "America's Least Philanthropic Companies" :Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Even more devilish than DOS is Slajov Zizek's London Books riff on "Liberal [in the old fashioned economic-liberalism sense] Communists":

Liberal communists do not want to be mere profit-machines: they want their lives to have deeper meaning. They are against old-fashioned religion and for spirituality, for non-confessional meditation (everybody knows that Buddhism foreshadows brain science, that the power of meditation can be measured scientifically).

This isnít an entirely new phenomenon. Remember Andrew Carnegie, who employed a private army to suppress organised labour in his steelworks and then distributed large parts of his wealth for educational, cultural and humanitarian causes, proving that, although a man of steel, he had a heart of gold? In the same way, todayís liberal communists give away with one hand what they grabbed with the other.

... The same Soros who gives millions to fund education has ruined the lives of thousands thanks to his financial speculations and in doing so created the conditions for the rise of the intolerance he denounces.


"Nobody Has to be Vile"

#32 papeetepatrick

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Posted 07 November 2009 - 10:41 AM

Even more devilish than DOS is Slajov Zizek's London Books riff on "Liberal [in the old fashioned economic-liberalism sense] Communists":



... The same Soros who gives millions to fund education has ruined the lives of thousands thanks to his financial speculations and in doing so created the conditions for the rise of the intolerance he denounces.


Zizek is IMO an ultimate charlatan and fraud. He's shrewd, but he's always got his eye on the trends and will say anything With a little change in the materials 'Soros' has 'given' or 'lives ruined' and slight change to a smaller audience, what he says of Soros is surely true of him. His followers spend all their time guessing what tricks are up his sleeve now, because he is a master illusionist and I don't think serious at all, just very media-savvy and well-educated. His old theses on the 'virtual' are repellent beyond belief, like the stupidest caricature of the much better work done by Baudrillard, and with none of the science of even a nut like Ray Kurzweil, with his Singularity and desire to live 5000 years. Zizek exaggerates everything until it's worn out, then notes that it's worn out, and figures out something else 'the entertaining philosopher' would find profitable.

Of course, the comparision ends there. He doesn't consider himself 'rich', so his 'philanthropic contributions' don't even need to be written up. He makes plenty of money from his lectures and has a minor audience for his new books, churned out yearly. They even let him write terrible op-eds in the NYTimes. This is mostly off-topic, but I think that, even though goods ought not to 'ill-gotten' (everybody would say that), almost all of them can be traced back to some kind of exploitation, so it's not worth giving to much credence to except in the most extreme cases. Maybe Phyllis McGuire's Sam Giancana money put into her Las Vegas mansion was not exactly a philanthropic use of funds, but lots of the big industrialists are entirely responsible for enormous giving to the Arts, and this is just part of how life works. The imperial and royal courts throughlut history all stole and exploited from poorer souls, but there would be no ballet without them.

So, I'd say 'Everybody has to somewhat vile'. this surely includes ALL property owners, but I'm not the one that has a problem with that. If others do, then they ought not to have houses, etc.

#33 dirac

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Posted 07 November 2009 - 02:20 PM

Thanks for the link to that article, Quiggin. He has a point, although it's always been easier to make fun of rich men with a vestigial conscience instead of those who happily gorge and exploit without a qualm. The former occupy a hopelessly false position and the latter at least have the virtue of consistency. I will say that the public probably got more from the likes of Carnegie and Frick than we have from the robber barons of today.

Their money might follow the state's, but the state in this regard often can't do without them.


It does follow the state's. It's generally understood that the support of the NEA, for example, often acts as sort of Good Housekeeping seal of approval, encouraging private funding.

#34 Quiggin

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Posted 07 November 2009 - 03:26 PM

Zizek was being playful, but his point was that the movement of fast capital of the last ten years -- totally untethered from any reality or responsibility, almost a pure abstraction -- has caused turbulence for lots of poor countries.

John Maynard Keynes -- hardly a Zizek (and married to Russian ballerina Lydia Lopovoka!) -- has pointed out roughly the same thing in his image likening capital to a school of goldfish lying in a pond in peaceful suspension at one corner. Then suddenly, in the flash of on eye, they are in another corner for no good reason. Keynes was for some sort of tethering of capital (one imagines Roman goldfish on chains).

Today's Financial Times "Long View" is, in the same way, nervous that the nervous capital of hedge and other hair-trigger funds -- the "dollar carry trade" -- will not stay in place long enough for solid "long-term buy-and-hold investors to put more more money into markets." Lots of everyday lives are tied to these marionette movements of money.

Zizek has made lots of complicated ideas fairly accessible -- Terry Eagleton and Frederic Jameson have some quibbles but have given him good marks -- and he spoke at the same forum Jane Jacobs and Joan Didion do here in San Francisco and also at a small down-at-the-heels book store on Valencia Street. At least in that context, he did look like someone having taken something of a of vow of poverty -- and genuine in his concerns about the loss of culture, in the broadest sense.

One of Z's themes was about fast middle class normalization of previous dangerous ideas and zones -- which as someone interested in city planning these days, I see in the shockingly rapid assimilation of the Meat Packing District in Manhattan into grand hipness, without a even decent period of mourning for the old.

Hopefully Mr. Koch's nervous capital is at finally at rest in its new seats, viewing Opera & Ballet.

John Maynard & Lydia lighting up

#35 papeetepatrick

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Posted 07 November 2009 - 05:11 PM

also at a small down-at-the-heels book store on Valencia Street. At least in that context, he did look like someone having taken something of a of vow of poverty -- and genuine in his concerns about the loss of culture, in the broadest sense.


He's taken no such vow, but is a poseur. I've been reading him and discussing him with theorists and philosophers for over 10 years--but once in a while he'll have an idea. He's primarily a good 'intellectual trendy'. After 9/11, there were three Verso books commissioned by big 'cyber-names' and philosophers--Virilio, Zizek, and Baudrillard. Zizek's was easily the most appalling. With every new book, he grabs attention by contradicting himself and saying, more or less 'isn't that adorable the way I can play with my own foibles, or whaever you'd call them?' In making things more 'accessible', he often just makes them different and therefore false. I liked him at first, but by now I don't believe a word he says. It's just posturing. Baudrillard did a lot of posturing too, but the method by which you make huge messes in order to find some diamond in the garbage would work for him; he was not the careful and fastidious type of thinker, but every now and then he's come of with something. Zizek stole tons of his ideas and cheapened all of them, especially as regards the hyperreal. Then he contradicts what he last said because he hadn't believed it to begin with. Anybody can 'look theyv'e taken a vow of poverty'. I can assure he has taken no such vow, and feels free to polemicize everybody and his brother. He also has no decent understanding of art, and one of his most idiotic fugues is crap about how art outside its original organic context no longer has any value--typical, because of course it lacks some of its original environmental power, but Zizekians will often tell you that Micheleangelo doesn't mean anything anymore. He's on his way out, though. The 'object-oriented philosophers' are the buzz by now, and they're not paying much attention to Zizek, he's paying attention to them. And what's so great about a 'vow of poverty' anyway? So he can criticize rich people? The point is, I know he's got dough anyway, and can always get more very easily. He's way beyond some ordinary tenured academic like even Jameson (thought I don't mean he's wiser.)

Also, talk about 'the loss of culture' is about as convincing to me by now as 'the end of history'. This is just the 'darkening tones' talk of the leftist media theorist, and they've been doing that for decades. I dont' buy it.

#36 carbro

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 11:01 PM

Been there -- to the lobby, anyway. :dunno:

I don't know whether this is permanent or not, but there are no tables in the lobby -- either the folding tables under the casting sheets or the red marble tables near the steps. This is a problem, because after the ladies have bought their tickets, there's no surface for us to rest our bags while placing our ticket/s and credit card

Other than that -- and the ugly, backlit, accordion-pleated shower curtain that covers the wall of box office windows -- not much looks changed.

Photo here.

#37 Balanchinomane

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Posted 17 November 2009 - 08:28 AM

The Get 'em in, Get 'em out theme continues in the revamped
ladies rooms too. At least the one I visited at the City Opera Gala.
The vanity area is gone, replaced by more stalls. There's mirrors
over the individual sinks but no area to check out one's hair and
make-up. I hope the dancer's dressing rooms are more comfortable.

But that box office looks intimidating. As you approached it, could
you hear Darth Vader's theme music?

#38 E Johnson

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Posted 17 November 2009 - 02:59 PM

The Get 'em in, Get 'em out theme continues in the revamped
ladies rooms too. At least the one I visited at the City Opera Gala.
The vanity area is gone, replaced by more stalls. There's mirrors
over the individual sinks but no area to check out one's hair and
make-up. I hope the dancer's dressing rooms are more comfortable.

But that box office looks intimidating. As you approached it, could
you hear Darth Vader's theme music?


this sounds as if more of the ladies' rooms have been renovated as the first circle one was some years back. and if so, yippee; i hated the long lines that all the other ones had. four stalls is not enough.

#39 carbro

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Posted 25 November 2009 - 04:46 PM

As I climbed the stairs to the orchestra level for NYCB's Opening Night, I was greeted by an artist friend who gasped, "Isn't the theater beautiful?!" (perhaps in other words). I hadn't yet seen anything much beyond the lobby, and in fact, indicated to him the offending shower curtain around the box office windows. But indeed, everything in the public areas, had been cleaned up. The new carpeting, a brighter red, has a nice tone-on-tone pattern of an open weave. Inside the auditorium, the seats are quite different.

I was immediately aware that I was sitting on less cushioning than previously, but I wouldn't call it uncomfortable. I went to hang the strap of my bag over my armrest, and unlike in other theaters (including the old NYST), it instantly slipped off. I removed my jacket and tried to tuck the sides behind the seat, but the seatbacks are too close together, and perhaps only a cotton shirt could fit in that space. It's going to be very interesting to see how patrons cope once winter and heavy coats arrive. Call me fussy if you will, but it seems important practical matters have been overlooked, even though I realize the seat design is all in the cause of better acoustics (too good, since I could hear human activities halfway across the Fourth Ring).

Some years ago, some intelligent person -- a woman, no doubt -- got the great idea of redesigning the 4th Ring Ladies' Room to double the number of stalls. Even this did not completely eliminate the lines, but we no longer worried about wasting a whole intermission waiting. This resulted in a somewhat cramped sink area, and opposite that a "dressing table" where we could fix hair and makeup. It was not ideal, but it was a practical response to an everyday problem.

Now, we've lost the primping area and all those extra stalls, inside of which there aren't even little shelves for our programs. If a woman is carrying a clutch with no strap, she'll have to figure out how to manage with one hand or place her bag on the floor. Tiny detail, and in the scheme of the cost, I think they could have found a way to give us shelves.

Also, they've installed those powerful blowers to dry our hands. Three weeks after the theater opened, the one I tried first was out of order. I've also heard that without regular, thorough cleanings, they are unsanitary. Unless the custodial staff has undergone a similar renovation, remembering empty soap dispensers, I can almost guarantee that they won't be.

The bathroom looks sleek and modern, but I don't think most of us use it for the opportunity to admire the design.

I'm sure that the technical upgrades of lighting, the orchestra elevator, etc., etc., will enhance the company's experience, and maybe even ours. But somehow, practical details which may seem small to the audience but are not, were inexplicably overlooked.

I am not happy.

#40 Hans

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Posted 25 November 2009 - 05:22 PM

Does the theater still have a coat check? I realise waiting in line for that is a pain, but perhaps in unusually cold weather it could be a solution.

#41 carbro

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Posted 25 November 2009 - 05:49 PM

Does the theater still have a coat check? I realise waiting in line for that is a pain, but perhaps in unusually cold weather it could be a solution.

That I didn't check (no pun intended), but I doubt it can accommodate 3,000+ coats.

#42 E Johnson

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Posted 25 November 2009 - 05:57 PM

Does the theater still have a coat check? I realise waiting in line for that is a pain, but perhaps in unusually cold weather it could be a solution.


I've always just folded mine up and stuffed it under my seat. If I recall correctly, there is a charge for the coat check, which not everyone is going to want to pay, lines aside.

#43 Hans

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Posted 25 November 2009 - 08:10 PM

Good points--I did not realise there was a charge.

#44 Michael

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Posted 26 November 2009 - 07:20 AM

I found the new auditorium dismaying. The glamour is gone, the place looks and feels like a fancy movie theater. The loss of the two front rows and the concomitant enlargement of the orchestra pit throw Philip Johnson's design proportions off completely; the semi-circle of the audience is broken and with the absence of carpeting the impression of red and gold and of an urgent audience is altered. I disagree with P. Martins speech, that opera and ballet begin with music: not true visually. Both art forms begin with the stage. It's a fundamental mistake to make one so aware of the damn orchestra. (And now will NYCB actually get one that plays to such a level: this isn't going to be the Kirov in the pit).

My impression of the renovation is that NYC Opera has finally succeeded in dragging NYCB down to its level, that of a regional company. The house no longer makes the impression of a world class venue: like I said, a movie theater instead. A great regional hall, now nothing more. This could have been Cleveland or Seattle. The costume jewelry 1960's magnificence of the original Kirstein/Johnson conception has been lost.

#45 bobbi

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Posted 26 November 2009 - 08:13 AM

The Second Ring ladies' room on NYCB's opening was out of order, and I was directed to go to the First Ring. How long has the theater been open that this should happen? And for those of us who eschew bottled water, I was dismayed to find that the water fountain on the right side of the Second Ring spewed the same old tepd water. (And I was told that this was the only fountain actually working!!) Why couldn't something so very basic be fixed? Grumble, grumble....


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