Monday, March 21, 2005

New York break: a Chelsea market inside a Nabisco shell

Ripping the gut out of an old Oreo cookie factory and fitting into it wholesale outlets geared toward foods and restaurant supplies seems clever. Now called the Chelsea Market, it does remind me of how a place with a sordid past (not the cookie factory but the Chelsea district) can be revamped and turned into a spiffy present. Or at least it’s getting’ there.

I have to say that the factory makeover itself is stunning. Since the place is off the beaten path, there aren’t many who come just to look. Most are serious about checking things off a list. But there is also that stray person who seemed to be in search of not food, but WiFi and he found it here, within the walls of the past cookie emporium (see photo below). I don’t question the logic of putting WiFi into a former Oreo cookie place. The greater puzzle was finding, on the walk over, a tiny grocery store, the type that looks too narrow to fit in two people standing next to each other, with a large sign posted over its door: WiFi available within.
Inside the Nabisco building: an underground spring is feeding the waterfall; an intersting spot to settle in with your computer. Posted by Hello
need a snack? there are options... Posted by Hello

New York break: Melinda and Melinda and Manhattan

Such cinematographic nostalgia! Last night, I may as well have been standing in an advance purchase line to buy opening week-end tickets for Annie Hall or Manhattan.

Once inside, I am in for a shock: people in their twenties and thirties actually do fill moviehouses! Nice! (This is the age group that always laughs appreciatively at offbeat lines that have absolutely no appeal to younger audiences and aren’t forceful enough to stir the jaded “I’ve heard this before” set. It is also the most underrepresented age category in a Madison Westside multiplex.)

The movie? Woody Allen’s newest – Melinda and Melinda. It’s not really so new (content-wise) after all – someone remarked that Woody plagiarizes himself, and it’s true. The uncertain distinction between the comic or tragic, the certainty of death – all Woodyisms through and through.

This post isn’t a movie review though. There are plenty who have already written (not too kindly) about M & M (I would say that generally, it is regarded as merely better than his recent worst). It is a homage to viewing it in New York. To watching an audience, sitting tightly in a little basement theater, looking not unlike the characters on the screen – entangled in city life and in each other, neurotic, deliberately dressed, seemingly focused on their own personal successes. Since the movie jumps between two separate story lines, it isn’t hard to add this third one, of those at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema last night, so that I (as the non-New Yorker) am really the true outsider, the moviegoer, while they all played their parts, reacting to each additional twist along with those on the screen.

Authentic New York. If this is a mysterious (pretentious maybe?) label, wander into a moviehouse and stare at the audience. You'll see it.