Jan. 11, 2004 | BOSTON (AP) -- Temperatures dropped well below zero Saturday across the Northeast, making it the coldest day in a decade for some cities and keeping all but the hardiest people indoors.
I was one of the hardiest people last night. I went out to a sculpture exhibit at Man Ray and then danced like a fast-forwarded dervish.
I went bundled in layers: my thin black dancing T-shirt under a red V-neck long sleeve shirt under a purple sweatshirt under a black sweatshirt under a winter coat under another winter coat. With gloves, 2 layers of socks, and a scarf.
The sculpture exhibit was interesting.
The theme was that in olden days, sculpture had to be attached to the ground to stay up. Here everything was fixed to the wall or hanging from the ceiling. For example, there was a sculpture of a woman, cross-sectioned, almost swimming through the air above us. The write-up described her as swimming in a very liberated way, but the whole idea of "cross-sections" was a little reductive and if someone were strictly PC they might think of it as demeaning. It reminded me of the old Snickers commercials, "No matter how you slice it, it always comes up peanuts." Also, a centipede. There was "Veins I, II, and III"--sort of a joke. Veins I and II were very similar, these map-like pantings with country-like structures at different intensities of tan, with squiggly lines ("veins") in white, also at two intensities. But the third panel was completely different! It was this sculpture with squiggly lines ("veins") coming out. There was also a sculpture of a "cello" with "ribs" that the notes said was inspired by Picasso's cubist cellos.
As far as meeting people goes, I kind of struck out. I sat down and there was this couple near me. I mentioned that the music playing was Theloneous Monk, but they didn't have a clue about that. They had also never been to Man Ray before. The guy was slow to catch on that the cross sections added together to make a woman. I told them that later the gallery became a dance club--they waited, but left before the joint got hopping. And hopping it got! I was surprised in such scrotumtightening cold to see so many people!
I also talked with an older guy, he asked me whether I was an artist. I was careful 'cause Man Ray caters to many alternative lifestyles including gay, and I'm not. But we did have a reasonable conversation about kinetic sculpture, metal-working, cities to live in, and poor old Martin Harwit at the Air and Space Museum during the Enola Gay flap, and the justifiedness of Hiroshima and especially Nagasaki.
But later at the dance floor bar, I hovered apart, as cliques greeted old friends.
I had fun--and didn't have to pay because I'd gone to the exhibit first. However, that meant I had to stay for the entire night, and for the first time, I think, I got kind of worn out.
First, I was goofy. I've danced to '80s music so much that to stave off boredom, I like to do something different. I hop-scotched across the dance floor. I made hand-shadows of an eagle and a goose. I danced in an "en garde!" pose, then, Princess Bride style, switched my sword hand. To a song whose refrain is "New life... new life" I twirled my hands in a double helix (I usually try to pantomime insemination, but that's tricky). But at some point, I tired of such noodling, splitting angel hairs and dancing on the head of a penne.
So I got serious about dancing semi-charismatically. I usually dance center-stage, though that's mostly because I need a lot of space. And Cross-Dressing Black Guy seems to covet that space too. Again, some guy told me my dancing was awesome. There were a couple of guys who I thought were trying to mimic my moves, but they were awful. At first I worried that I looked like that (I tried to judge from my shadow, but I couldn't see it) and then realized my particular moves evolved from what feels natural to me, and evolved over a long time. As I left at the end of the evening, the bouncer gave me more time to re-layer myself than he gave others, and told me, "You dance very well."
Recovering. Feel a mixture of mysticism and physical relaxation. A little guilt that in the big picture I'm not working now--and went out for a delicious Indian buffet. This was a great new restaurant, and my god, a waitress there was incredibly hot. I tried not to stare at her. As I left, and she picked up my plate, we chatted. (Funny that chatting never happens for me at Man Ray, a place where being social is part of the purpose.) She asked where I was from ("New Jersey"--perhaps I should have said "Latvia", home of my ancestors--I must have looked exotic), and I asked where she was--from Nepal! At first I was clueless--uh, big mountains there? Himalyas? Then I finally figured something to say: "Weren't all the members of your royal family extinguished in a horrific murder-suicide a few years ago?" Heh. It's good to have a photographic memory and to read the lurid headlines! "Well, we have a new king now..." she said. "Good!"
Usually I imagine the local Indian restaurants are family businesses and that hottie women who work there are wives or daughters of guys who work there or who own the place. But she was pretty friendly. Perhaps I'll go back soon (not immediately). At the worst, I'll have a great meal and not feel like a freeloading glutton but like I'm trying to build a social life. Yeah, it's her job to be friendly, but she's got a certain amount of choice. And those Nepalese sure know how to be unfriendly when they want to be, if you can consider a regicidal bloodbath to be unfriendly, that is.
Touch and go on research, and on reading David Foster Wallace and Julian Barbour (there's a commonality--Time is related to Continuum, both Time and Infinity are concepts fraught since ancient times with paradoxes and confusing intuition.) I'll eat something tasty and healthy, play piano, and try to escape the dumdum coldrums.