Saturday, October 5, 2013

New Yorker Festival - Apollo Robbins and Gael Garcia Bernal

Tickets to two events this year, the first was on Saturday afternoon and it was an interview with Apollo Robbins. Not sure how to describe what he does. It's slight-of-hand performance, sort of, or "an artful manipulator of awareness," so said Forbes magazine. He started as a pick-pocket and thief and now works as a speaker, entertainer, and consultant to the military and law enforcement. His shtick is not so much the slight-of-hand a la Pen and Teller, but more in reading a person's attention or misdirecting their attention in order to do what he does.

His physical dexterity is at a level beyond the ordinary person's; he moves his hands with a fluidity that is hard to describe, which is interesting as he said he had many physical ailments as a child and had to hold a pen with two hands growing up due to his lack of coordination. It was an interesting interview with a person who is operating on a different intellectual and psychological level than most of us. It was also entertaining - he walked through the audience and returned to the stage with several watches, and he brought a guy on stage, took a $20 from his wallet, tore half the serial number off the corner, he gave the corner to the guy and told him to give it to any random person in the audience while he turned his back; this turned out to be irrelevant as the main part of the $20 ended up in his own pocket and the corner ended up inside a lemon which the volunteer found in his jacket pocket. He had to cut the lemon open in order to find the corner of the bill. That strikes me as a little more complicated than "misdirection."
unfortunately, the only photo I took of the guy is terrible; Adam Green (left, the journalist who wrote the article about Apollo earlier this year), Apollo Robbins (right)
Our next interview wasn't until 10pm and Peter commented that he wondered if Gael Garcia Bernal might be a disappointment compared to Apollo - as how could such a good-looking actor be as fascinating as this guy who is operating on a different plane than the rest of us; "I hope he's not just a pretty-boy," I said. 

To kill some time, we went to Eataly and looked around - it was jam-packed on a Saturday night. The casual places to get food in the store were SRO and really loud, so we decided to go to Manzo, the fine dining restaurant and eat there. The food and service were great; we shared an artichoke and sunchoke appetizer and ordered two pastas. My pasta was particularly spectacular, it was a braised beef-stuffed tortelloni with a savory (savory) mushroom broth.
baby artichokes with sunchoke chips
So much for "pretty-boy" Gabriel Garcia Bernal... he was charming, funny, and incredibly well versed on the politics of Latin America. We watched clips of his movies and he talked about his process and his roles, from a transvestite torch singer to Che Guevara. He talked about engaging in the incredibly dangerous activity of hopping cargo trains to see first-hand what the the near-destitute migrants in Latin America who are searching for work go through (I think this was part of a documentary project), and his sympathy for the poor and down-trodden of this region, along with his pride in the art and culture that comes from it, was clearly evident. He's also one of the most handsome men I've ever seen in real life. 

hazy shade of October