Monday, July 16, 2012

Heavy heat

A family car wash. Photo: Jeff Hirsch.
Monday, July 16, 2012. Weekend of heavy heat from early morn till late late night. The city was very quiet. Most of those who can, leave town on weekends like this. Those who remain stayed inside. I walked the dogs down to the promenade in late morning, and with the exception of a few joggers, there were only a handful of park visitors. Last night mid-evening, Manhattan got a heavy rain that lasted for the better part of an hour. Washed the streets and sidewalks and watered the trees and plants and didn’t move the heat.

It is too hot these days to take your dogs out. It is too hot to run them while you pedal away on your bicycle.  Not everybody with dogs know this but they should. Dogs are extremely vulnerable to heatstroke. Running or even walking fast can easily kill the animal. The same day. If you take that risk, YOU can easily KILL your dog. If you don’t care, you shouldn’t have a dog. Anytime.

Dogs are smarter than a lot of us humans. Cats too. Their only problem is they have to depend on us. The love and loyalty they grace us with is worth the returning.
Last Wednesday revisited. I went to lunch on that day at La Grenouille with Patsy Tarr, the dance philanthropist. What’s a dance philanthropist? I’m not sure it’s a title since it’s my concoction to define Patsy and her devoted interest. A “dance philanthropist” in my book is a supporter, a fund-raiser, a proponent of Dance, one of the Seven Arts.

It’s not just about getting the money to fund the work of choreographers and their collaborators. It means creative commitment. Dancers all know about commitment. Patsy studied dance as a girl and as a young woman but any early dreams of being a professional were laid aside long ago. Dance philanthropists are committed to keeping the art alive and moving forward. I know all this from having observed Patsy’s activities.

In 1989 she launched Dance Ink which has since been renamed the 2wice Arts Foundation. It is a non-profit that publishes digital and print projects that focus on the intersection of photography, dance, design, performance, fashion, art and architecture. In the center: The Dance.
Patsy Tarr and Abbott Miller. Photo: TODD HEISLER | THE NEW YORK TIMES.
Up until this year, 2wice published a magazine of the same name. If you bought them and kept them, you now have (beautiful) collector’s items because 2wice is going/has gone digital.  Patsy and 2wice magazine’s art director Abbott Miller have launched an app for the iPad titled “Fifth Wall” which takes the dance that was recorded on the printed pages of 2wice, and brings it to life on the iPad.

“Fifth Wall” is a video of choreographer/ dancer Jonah Bokaer (see NYSD HOUSE) performing inside a specially created box scaled to the dimensions of the iPad screen. Those who have seen the famous dance sequence of Fred Astaire in the MGM film directed by Stanley Donen, “Royal Wedding” where Astaire danced on the floor, the walls and then the ceiling, will recognize the inspiration for “Fifth Wall.”

Bokaer’s performance runs along the same parameters. There are four “walls” (obviously) on which Bokaer performs, and you are the “fifth.” On the iPad, you can manipulate these dances by adding, eliminating, expanding and layering, using one’s fingertips, giving the illusion of four dances taking place at the same time.
The dances were shot with a camera that can rotate 90 degrees vertically and horitzontally and the box in which Bokaer dances can swivel 360 degrees. The result, with its gravity-defying movements, is like Astaire’s but far far more technologically refined. The music was co-composed by Eric Beach, Josh Quillen and Jason Treuting of So Percussion. The vid’s director was Ben Louis Nicholas. And it’s available for the iPad for $.99 (99 cents), purchased by visiting the app store on iTunes.

How did this all begin? How did Patsy find herself at the center of the dance world in New York as a “philanthropist?” I don’t know why but I’d never asked her this before.

A number of years ago now, George Soros, the billionaire hedge fund operator and international philanthropist, phoned Jeff Tarr, Patsy’s husband with whom he had had a business association, and asked if he’d serve on the board of the Alwin Nicholai Dance Company. Nicholai was a neighbor of Soros in Southampton and Soros was trying to raise interest and funds for the dance company.

Nicholai was a choreographer known as modern dance’s pioneer of multi-media, who had his own company. Jeff Tarr wasn’t interested in joining the board, but told Soros he should call Patsy because of her passion for The Dance. Soros did. Patsy agreed, and thereby turned a page in her (professional) life. In the experience she learned all about the the nitty-gritty business of funding, supporting and keeping a dance company up and running. And she loved it.
A sneak peek at Fifth Wall.
George Gurley and Hilary Heard got married last Monday at the City Hall/Municipal Building in Brooklyn. Finally. The only other person there was the photographer they hired the night before – “a nice guy” named Steven Heo who also was their witness. After the ceremony George and Hilly went to the River Café for a magnificent lunch.

George and Hilary.
This completes the first chapter of the couple’s life together. Most of it has already become a book, George and Hilly; The Anatomy of a Relationship, (“a brutally honest, Laugh-out-loud funny, true account of six years of couples therapy”), written by George. Later George proposed to Hilly at a party at Doubles in front of a couple hundred friends and family – covered here at the NYSD. They moved in together a long time ago – maybe five or seven years ago, so it’s not a case of the bride and groom just getting to know each other.

George is an intrepid reporter who can turn anything into a news account and even make the dullest dullard into someone fascinating. He is also innovative with his talent, hence the couples therapy and the book that followed. Hilly, whom I don’t know quite as well, is fine with all of it. She is Senior Manager of Public Relations for Bulgari and she loves her job and she’s perfect for it.

I think the truth is she “gets” George, and always has, and always likes it like that. I don’t know this for sure, but she’s always smiling like the guy just amuses her. You can see it on her face in their wedding pictures. I don’t know what they got out of all those years of Couples Therapy with George writing it all out each week in a column in the New York Observer and then the book, but I’d give them a very good chance of having a good, long, loving marriage in this bumpy and crazy world of ours. Mainly because Hilly lets George be George. Because she likes him that way. The real secret of success in any marriage, in my book.

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