Remembering Daniel Nagrin
Re “Remembering Daniel Nagrin,” by Merilyn Jackson—
Thanks for this review— I couldn’t attend the performance, but Merilyn’s writing gives me the flavor, and I appreciate that. Here are my own memories of Nagrin:
In 1992, I went to the American Dance Festival in North Carolina with my friend Naoko. I hated the bunhead conformity of the place, although I loved some of the people and some of the teachers. I studied technique with Mark Dendy and Gerri Houlihan, reconstructed a very old dance originally made by Helen Tamiris (Nagrin’s first wife) with Diane McIntyre, and took a Comp class with Daniel Nagrin. Nagrin was opinionated, funny, and irreverent, and surprisingly contemporary in his views and aesthetics, especially considering that he must’ve been in his 70s. We did a lot of improvisational dance-making, and I argued with him a lot (I was young, OK?).
But I have fond memories of the experience, and I know he appreciated having someone in the class who cared enough to argue with him. At the end of the summer he wrote me a note, which I still keep in an old photo album:
“Dear Spiky, Feisty Amy-
“It was just fine to have you in class with your individual and strong opinions. Never become “nice”.
Good luck, Daniel.”
June 10, 2009
Bruce Nauman at Venice
Re “Bruce Nauman at the Venice Biennale”—
Bravo, A.J. Sabatini! What a brilliant piece and a joy to read. Funny, smart, and wistful, as it should be. Moreover, it’s kind of an amazing critical hat-trick, as you have simultaneously avenged the late and all-too-overlooked Annson Kenney and skewered aesthetic mediocrity and applauded an audience’s ability to demand more from its so-called icons of art, while you also raise the provocative possibility the Art Museum and its culturally limp curator have been rendered obsolete by the fiercely tenacious vision of the upstart Slought Foundation.
Maralyn Lois Polak
Center City Philadelphia
June 20, 2009
Steak sandwiches before cheese
Re “Steak sandwiches B.C.,” by Bob Levin—
The degeneration of the Philadelphia steak sandwich probably started with the cook on the flat iron griddle using his tools to chop and split the thin slabs of frozen meat into a pile of cooked minced material. It came out like ground hamburger.
Next time in that shop I asked the greaseball cook to not do that. He looked at me with mixed expressions of hurt and aggression and exclaimed, “‘Samattahyou, huh?” C’mon, chef, I just want to chew it myself, OK?
I was away from Philadelphia for years and in California asked a short order cook— who said he could do anything I wanted— to make me a Philadelphia steak sandwich on Italian bread. He almost got it but used reconstituted meat that was full of fat/grease and, to put his spin on it, added Miracle Whip, with a smile.
So I build my own at home based on my first experiences in the 1950s at a shop on Elmwood Avenue.
June 14, 2009
Urban peace and quiet
Re: ”One woman’s quest for peace and quiet,” by Reed Stevens—
Reed, you are a masterful storyteller, turning a brief birdsong into an engrossing saga that reveals so much about you.
Los Altos, Calif.
June 3, 2008
Do happy musicians play better?
Re “Do happy musicians play better?,” by Dan Coren—
Different countries have very different attitudes to the question of what to look like while you’re playing. Perhaps unexpectedly, Italians tend to feel very strongly that they should maintain serious demeanor on stage and not respond visibly to the musical context.
Personally, I find the Lang Lang emoting totally off-putting. But then I don’t like his playing much in the first place.
June 20, 2009
Re “The bland leading the bland,” by Dan Coren—
I would like to kindly remind our writer that performing arts organizations are facing what is perhaps their leanest year since 1930. If it is true that the artistic offering appears bland to the ears of the erudite, it is also true that these organizations need to sell every ticket to every concert next year in order to survive. This translates into extremely conservative choices of repertoire.
They cannot afford to program anything outside of the tried-and-true ticket sellers. Given better economic times, we will see them again stretching their creative muscles.
Meanwhile, canceling subscriptions in protest merely adds fuel to the fire. We are at a moment where the choice is between another performance of “old chestnuts” or a dark, silent hall.
May 27, 2009
Re Dan Rottenberg’s review of Forbidden Broadway at the Walnut Independence Studio 3—
Reviews are reviews…. and advertisements are advertisements. After slogging (and it was painful) through the first few paragraphs of this “review,” being forced to read how Mr. Rottenberg is sublimely talented (yeah, that Philadelphia song was a stroke of absolute genus!), and actually counting the references to himself (16) in the first three paragraphs, we finally arrive at a semblance of a review and some thoughtful criticism.
Of course, it ends with another explosion of self-gratification (nine more “Me” references in the last paragraph). Makes me wonder if he is paid by the word.
Fox Chase/ Philadelphia
May 28, 2009
Editor’s comment: On that basis, Broad Street Review couldn’t afford me.
Harp Music Festival
Re Tom Purdom’s review of the Harp Music Festival—
The texts were supposed to be with the programs, but inadequate time or staffing, as Purdom points out, led to their omission on the day of the concert, and I apologize for that. The order of the program was changed that day, and that probably made it more confusing as to which duo was playing when, not to mention which piece. I myself didn’t know what would be next, and I apologize for the confusion that caused.
The second half was played in reverse order for some reason I am not aware of. It just goes to show that harpists are a feisty bunch. So if, Tom, perhaps you or someone you know would like to volunteer to be our program editor, these slips won’t happen.
Of course, if we had a budget of, say, $50,000 or more (rather than less than $5,000), we could happily hire people to handle all such details and much more.
Saul Davis Zlatkovski
Harp Music Festival of Philadelphia
June 1, 2009
Follow-up from Saul Davis Zlatkovski: My previous comment appears to cast blame on the performers for program changes, and that is not accurate. There were some editing errors in the program as a result of gaps in communication and technical difficulties.
Re Robert Zaller’s review of Conor McPherson’s The Seafarer, at the Arden—
Actually, Mr. Lockhart does swear (at least once that I can think of) --
"I’ve come for your soul this Christmas Eve, and I’ve been looking for you all f-----g day!”
It may be more than once, I can’t remember. But he is the “smoothest,” most polished character in the play
June 1, 2009
Re “’Wallander’: Swedish noir on PBS,” by Marge Murray—
It’s 9 p.m., May 31st, and “Wallander” is not being broadcast on WHYY.
J. A, Engle
East Falls/ Philadelphia
May 31, 2009
Editor’s comment: These guys are mavericks! They play by their own rules!
Respond to this Article