Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Another October, Another New Yorker Festival

And it rained and it rained and it rained. I'm seriously considering spending the first part of October 2016 on a Mexican beach. This was my tenth consecutive year in New York for the festival and while the October weather in those years has ranged from frigid to perfect to downright tropical, this was the wettest trip to New York I've ever had. Wendy and I had a good time though, and all of our events were interesting and entertaining -- Jim Gaffigan interviewed by Andy Borowitz; Malcolm Gladwell talking about the "riot threshold" as it pertains to school shooters; Jason Segel interviewed by Michael Schulman; an interview and performance by Reggie Watts; and Melissa Macfarquhar talking about people who feel a compulsion to good for others, often at great personal sacrifice. We also went to the Gagosian Gallery on Madison Avenue to see some Richard Serra drawings, did some shopping, met up with my friend Molly at what sadly turned out to be Manhattan's loudest bar, ate delicious food, and walked and walked and walked around Manhattan in the rain, until Sunday, when the sun finally came out - just in time for us to head home. Great trip though: Wendy is always good company, I found a really cool silk shirt at a Trina Turk sample sale for $29, got a lot of exercise by walking for miles, our tiny Chelsea apartment was cute and comfortable, Jason talked about Muppets, Jim talked about Hot Pockets, Malcolm's talk was frightening and thought-provoking, and Reggie Watts' performance was fantastic.
Room was tiny... 
...but the building had this awesome hallway and ceiling.

Things said during the Jim Gaffigan interview: 
  • On his comedy being mostly about family life, and not swearing in his act - "If you're offended by what I say, you have mental problems." 
  • "I'm going to be the weird uncle."
  • "I think there's a lot of anger behind comedy."
  • "What else about bacon?"
  • "I like being a dad, it's the most important thing I'll fail at."
Malcolm Gladwell talking about riot thresholds and school shootings.
In the riot threshold theory, shooters no longer have to be "deeply disturbed," they simply have to have a low enough threshold to want to participate. He said that Eric Harris who was the mastermind of the Columbine school shooting "wanted to start a revolution; the other kids [who participated] just wanted to join it."

Things said by Jason Segel: 
  • "A bunch of weirdos make a family." - quoting the Muppets
  • "You don't need permission to write."
  • "I isolated myself from the voices in my head that told me I was not capable of doing this." - on playing David Foster Wallace
  • "You can't do much more than be nice to the people around you and do the best that you can."
  • "I try and be really honest between 'action' and 'cut.'"
  • On feeling old: "The other day, I went to dinner and they told me they weren't serving dinner yet; it was 4:45pm."

1 World Trade Center; new home of Conde Nast; location of Reggie Watts event.
Cool building near 1 WTC.

Reggie Watts is an indescribable talent. I knew of him when he lived in Seattle and was in a band that I loved called Maktub. He moved to New York to do comedy, was successful at that, and ended up being picked to be late night talk show host James Cordon's band leader - which might be a misnomer because I think he and his keyboard and his looping machine might be the entire band (need to check out that show one of these days).

Here are some things either said or rapped by Reggie Watts during the event:
  • "I got some pastries, gonna cut 'em in half, cuz nobody needs a whole croissant."
  • "I mostly go home and have an edible marijuana treat."
  • "You have no kidney."
  • "West Coast is kind of a pussy" - on moving from New York to L.A. 
But perhaps the best line of the whole weekend came from the bartender at O'Hara's, a very down-home, local-feel, non-glossy pub a block from the WTC, where Wendy and I stopped for a drink before going to the Reggie Watts event. This place was the complete antitheses of every other place we'd been, there were no $16 cocktails (I had a $6.50 glass of wine, Wendy had a Guinness which I think was 5-bucks); guys were dressed in jeans and t-shirts instead of suits, and the decibel level was such that we could have a conversation without screaming above the din, because there was no din - just a mix of normal voices and classic rock. It was here that we heard the best thing of the weekend. Wendy and I were both sporting sleek hairstyles that night, and we both had scarves tied jauntily around our necks; when we approached the bar, the bartender took one look at us and asked, "What airline do you ladies work for?" Given the bar's downtown location, putting it between La Guardia and JFK, she was absolutely sure that we were flight attendants.