Saturday, March 26, 2005

Good Friday. Manhattan. Jewtopia.

Uploaded by gailontheweb.

David hasn't been my guest writer since last November, so I thought Friday was a good day as any to invite him back for another post. My Yiddish just isn't good enough yet.

Good Friday? Great Friday!

It caught me by surprise, that I had the day off Friday; luckily someone mentioned it earlier in the week, or I might have showed up anyway. (It's hard being the token Jew.) But in that vein, Gail suggested that we use the free day for a trip into Manhattan, to take in some museums and a show.

I checked out to see what was current on-and-off, and we came up with a short list of shows that looked appealing. We settled on I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change at the Westside Theatre; but when I went to purchase tickets, I found that the theatre has two halls, and another show was playing upstairs...


Reading on: "Written, produced by and starring Bryan Fogel and Sam Wolfson, Jewtopia tells the story of two 30-year-old single men, Chris O'Connell and Adam Lipschitz. Chris, a gentile, wants to marry a nice Jewish girl so he'll never have to make another decision. After forming a secret pact, Adam promises to help Chris shed his gentile-ness and bring him undercover into the Jewish world."

So? What's not to love? I bought the tickets, and browsed around for museums to visit before dinner. The Jewish Museum? Make Good Friday into a meshugeh Jewish holiday? But also on 43rd Street I found the International Center of Photography, and given our fervor for Flickr and Gail's interest in photography we decided to pay it a visit.

Friday morning the trip into the city went quickly, with light traffic and tunes from Gail's iPod on the car stereo; the new transmitter gizmo worked pretty well. We resumed the car-game that Gail taught me, going through the alphabet naming geographical locations without repeating any. (Q and Z are tough; X is nearly impossible after a few rounds!) Once in the city, we ditched the car in a garage on 44th and went to pick up our tickets at the theatre.

We found the International Center of Photography and paid the admission. The lower floor was given to an exhibit of works by controversial photographer and filmmaker Larry Clark. Clark's works focus on his life experiences - including stark portrayals of drug use and adolescent sexual activity. I found it uncomfortable but fascinating to review; his work is frank, often brutally so. From the 1960s to the present he has captured raw images of young addicts, the homeless, and street hustlers; more recently he has explored the urban skatepunk culture.

The upstairs hall featured a selection of prints from the ICP collection, including an exploration of the possibilities of the "portrait". Great stuff, with images from the 1880s to the present. Our visit inspired us to go out and explore the city a bit with our cameras; you can see our images here as a slideshow (uses Flash). Then it was a narrow Japanese place for dinner, which we were both ravenous for; delicious and really reasonable, even by NYC standards. Afterwards we stopped at a deli for a quick dessert-on-foot near the theatre.

The show was in a snug (300-seat) hall, and full of broad Jewish comedy. Lots of laughs; I especially liked one scene where Adam is teaching his friend Chris how to act convincingly Jewish in a restaurant: "Your meal has arrived, and it's exactly how you ordered it - what do you do? SEND IT BACK!" Gail liked it too, so it seems that you don't have to be Jewish to enjoy the absurdities that were lampooned in the show. The program did provide a short guide to Jewish holidays and an index of Yiddish words for the gentiles in the audience (who, by my guess, were firmly in the minority!)

We drove straight home after the show, resuming our ongoing geography game, as I was flying with some cadets in the morning.

Plus, I was so oysgemutshet I could plotz.

Photos on Flickr (no Flash): Good Friday around Manhattan