Thoughts

November 28, 2011

Rockefeller 1 Rivera 0

Filed under: Reviews — samueljenk @ 2:15 am

Rockefeller Center is a New York City Landmark.  Any tourist who visits NYC always makes sure to at least stop by.  Whether its Christmas time and the Tree is up or its winter and the Skating Rink is up.  At its inception, Nelson Rockefeller decided to ask an artist to paint a mural that would be shown at Rockefeller Center.  After Picasso and Matisse declined, Diego Rivera was commissioned.  However, Rivera ended up causing more trouble than his art was worth.

 

The biggest problem with Rivera’s mural was the picture of Vladimir Lenin.  Lenin was a leader in Communist Russia and was not the man that any of the Rockefellers wanted to see.   Another issue was Rivera’s portraits of alcohol.  On a plaque in the MOMA it said that the Rockefeller family was pro-prohibition.  Rivera on the other hand was not.  Both these issues pushed the Rockefeller hand, and they decided not to use Rivera’s mural.

 

I do think the right decision was made to keep the murals out of Rockefeller center.  The Rockefellers were and still are an American institution and by creating a communal gathering are they were creating a legacy.  Therefore they wanted to protect themselves from any negativity and backlash.  I do not think that Rivera’s art was so instrumental that it could outweigh their values.  I think that the blame lies solely on Diego Rivera.  When being hired for this monumental of a job, Rivera should have adhered to exactly what the Rockefellers wanted.  By painting objectionable items into the murals he disobeyed the Rockefeller’s wishes and the right measures were taken.

November 21, 2011

Beethoven: More Than Just a Ringtone

Filed under: Reviews — samueljenk @ 1:15 am  Tagged

On the long journey up the stairs at Carnegie Hall i got to thinking there wasn’t much about Beethoven i knew, besides that his first name was Ludwig.  As i got to my seat next to Nick i couldn’t help but feel squished. Suddenly the music started and I was transported into the music forgetting about my stuffed seating arrangements.  At first i the conductor struck me.  His movements seemed spastic.  Every piece of music contorted his body in another direction. This was my first time seeing a conductor in action and i was really amazed.

What was difficult about the concert to me was all the different sounds.  As every knew sound erupted i was playing a game of which instrument did that sound come from?  Then i would be watching the violin bows moving but i could not hear any distinct sound emanating from them.  After about 10 minutes I was completely ready to appreciate all the music.  And when the music stopped we all had the pleasure of hearing the second orhcestra, people coughing and clearing their throats.

My favorite part of the evening was the beginning of the second act.  It was my first ringtone on my first phone so it kinda transported me back to those times.  Those dun-dun-dun-dun’s were awesome.  All in all i really enjoyed this evening much more  than i ever thought i would.  The opportunity to hear such a talented orchestra is really once in a lifetime

 

November 6, 2011

The Hidden Art

Filed under: Reviews — samueljenk @ 3:21 pm  Tagged

When watching the Tokyo String Quartet I couldn’t help but look around at the people in the audience.  Half the people had their eyes closed and were just listening to the sounds.  I genuinely think that these people were missing out on most of the performance.  The things that struck me the most were the little things.  The violist bodies gently swaying side to side before he started playing, letting the music move him.  The orchestrated movement of the bows up and down was amazing.  I think when I look back to the performance, after I remember all the sounds these pieces of “hidden art” will stand forever.

Another extremely interesting piece of the performance to me, was when the cellist was plucking his instrument instead of using his bow.  When I first heard the pluckings, it sounded to me like one of my favorite bands playing.  All i could think about was Flea, the famous bassist, from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Which then led me to think of one of my favorite lines from the movie School of Rock

Dewey Finn: Katie, what was that thing you were playing today, the big thing?
Katie: Cello.
Dewey Finn: Ok. This is a bass guitar. And it’s the exact same thing but instead of playing it like this you tip it on the side… cello, you got a bass.

and then it came to me.  All music we hear today can trace its root back to classical works (save for the synthesized hip hop we hear this days). All in all I’m glad I got to see such talented performers doing what they love.

September 26, 2011

The Wonder(ous) Wheel

Filed under: Site Creative,Site Observations — samueljenk @ 3:01 pm  Tagged

August 23rd was the day.  The day I finally had the courage to do it. My name is Dennis Karishnakov and I am 12 years old.  I live in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, at 1401 Surf Avenue, Apartment 4A with my grandmother, parents, sister and brother.  I go to school at IS 139 where I am in Mrs. Lewis’s homeroom.  In my free time I play the violin and do my homework.  My whole world was Coney Island and that day, August 23rd, is when it all changed.

It started like every other Sunday in the Karishnakov house did.  Everyone gathered around the table for the weekly family breakfast of soft boiled eggs, toast and tea.  While everyone else was enjoying the feast, I could barely touch my food, I was too excited. “Nu, Dennis is there something bothering you? You barely touched your eggs” my father asked. “No,” I said, “I am fine, just not hungry this morning”.  Breakfast finally ended and not a second too soon.  After breakfast everyone retreated into their corners of their house.  Grandma went to her room to watch the latest Russian soap opera, mom and dad to the porch to smoke their cigarettes, my sister and brother to their rooms to do their homework and play their respective instruments.  I knew this was the time, so I put a couple of dollars that I’ve been saving for this trip in my pocket, quietly slipped out the front door, and started walking towards the boardwalk.

When I finally got to the boardwalk, there was an all out attack on my senses.  I could smell the corndogs being fried, I saw all the flashing lights of Astro-Land Luna Park, I heard all the carnies asking me to play their games of chance, I could feel and taste the saltiness of the sea water.  I never felt this alive in my life.  With the various distractions going on around me I knew I couldn’t stop, I was here for a reason. I was motivated to get where I needed to go. Finally, I found what I was looking for, the ticket booth to the one and only Wonder Wheel.

I took my place on line and waited, every few minutes taking a few steps towards my future.  I finally was next, “How old are you, son?” the booth operater asked. “12” I answered.  “Your too young, next.” I couldn’t help myself, I just started to cry, all my dreams, all the planning were just gone. “Aw, cmon kid, alright alright I’ll let you on, just stop crying, you’re driving away the rest of the customers.” Just like that I felt alive again, I was going to do it.

I sat on the wonderfully uncomfortable metal bench, waiting for the ride to start.  Suddenly I felt the first jolt of the ride, as I was slowly rising, the world I’ve never seen, came into my view.  There was a fabulous looking park I’ve never even been to right past my apartment building. I could see bridges way out in the distance. I could see Manhattan and all of its tall buildings and I thought of how great it must be to live on the top floor and see the all of the world beneath you. I could see out on the ocean for miles, and suddenly I wanted to sail the world.  How much more was out there, I wondered. I now knew there was more to the world than just Brighton Beach and I needed to get out and see it all.

That day changed my life.  I always heard about the world and all the wonderful countries in school, but seeing them was always and unobtainable fantasy.  After riding the wonder wheel, after seeing past my small neighborhood and out into the world, I knew that while I may not see everything in the world, I would do my best to see as much of it as I could.

My Trips to Coney Island and The High Line

Filed under: Site Essay,Site Observations — samueljenk @ 2:10 am  Tagged

There are two New York City landmarks that stand out as creations of their time and neighborhood.  As a class assignment, we were asked to visit these two sites, Coney Island and the New York City Highline.  Both provide recreation different ways.  The High Line started as an abandoned railroad track and was repurposed as an escape for New Yorkers. Coney Island, as long as its been built, has been a collection of attractions for families living throughout Brooklyn.

When the residents of the Chelsea neighborhood heard they were going to tear down the abandoned railroad tracks that ran above the west side of the city, they organized protests.  They thought it would be better for the neighborhood if the tracks were repurposed as a park.  This illustrates the growing desire within the Chelsea community, and New York City as a whole, to revitalize the urban landscape.  To New Yorkers it has “always been a dream to find an open space – especially when you live in a studio apartment”  (Goldberger 4). Often referred to as the “Miracle Above Manhattan”, the High Line was created to fill the need for a quiet escape from the pollution and city noise.

In the early 20th century, Coney Island was designed to be affordable and wholesome family entertainment.  In the center of a predominantly immigrant community, it provided recreation for people of any age, class or background.  After  Coney Island was created it was said “if Paris is France, Coney Island, between June and September is the world” (Koolhaas 38). After surviving an attempt to turn it into expensive beachside condos, supporters of Coney Island decided to rebuild the parks. In my opinion, Coney Island now is a modern amusement park that is still trying to recapture the authenticity of the early 20th century. It has attempted to do this by placing modern attractions around the around older rides and stands. What caught my eye most was in the place of the old Steeplechase, stands a new, modern roller coaster.

Even though I enjoyed my visit to Coney Island, I left with a bad taste in my mouth.  I found myself longing for the seedy, dangerous Coney Island I remembered.  Coney Island, in my opinion, has turned into an area used for commercial gain . Everything in the new and improved Coney Island was too shiny, too safe and too commercial.  In trying to create a modern interpretation of itself, it lost its old world charm.  Instead of old and vaguely unsafe rides, Coney Island now boasts roller coasters you would find in in Six Flags.  To me this modern Coney Island feels too sterile and unfriendly.

After visiting the High Line I left with the opposite feeling.  The High Line, to me, is a more pure creation Though I know that the High Line provided some commercial benefit to New York City and its surrounding neighborhoods, it is far less apparent.   It was created so that New Yorkers have an escape above all the commotion.  Unlike Coney Island there is no charge to enjoy the High Line.  Obviously missing from the High Line are business and advertisements.  One is just surrounded by trees, wildlife, and beautiful waterfalls.  It truly feels that while visiting the High Line, you escape to your own paradise.

Coney Island and the High Line offer different forms of recreation.  Coney Island provides the community a park filled with activity, rides, and noise, while the attraction of the High Line is the absence of all entertainment It’s a place that is meant for relaxation and escape.  Both places are reflections of the neighborhood they were built in, and in my opinion will continue to be landmarks for years to come.

Works Cited

Koolhaas, Rem. Delirious New York. New York: Monacelli Press, 1994. Print.

Goldberger, Paul. “Miracle Above Manhattan.” National Geographic April 2011: 122-137. Print.

September 16, 2011

FTW

Filed under: Reviews — samueljenk @ 4:49 pm  Tagged

This past Thursday night we were all privileged enough to see the documentary titled “Facing The Waves.” It told us the story of the Von Dutch co-founder Bobby Vaughn, his recent struggles and how he plans on “bouncing back” from those struggles. The main controversy that surrounded Vaughn was the justified homicide charge against him for the killing of his life long friend Mark Rivas. Bobby told the documentarians the story of the night in very broad strokes: alcohol fueled rage, getting stabbed by a beer bottle and finally wrestling the gun away from his friend and unloading it into him. In the aftermath Bobby lost custody of his son and fled to the East Coast where he opened a surf shop and set out on creating a new clothing line “FTW”.

Bobby’s whole clothing line, and really his whole way of life, is about self- expression and doing what he wants.  He purposely left the name of this clothing line in acronym form so that everyone would apply his or her own “FTW.”  Examples he gave ranged from “For The Win” and “Fix The World” to other more vulgar expressions.  The documentarians related stories where Bobby would show up late and high or turn the music up in hi store causing copious problems for them.  Bobby’s whole world is about doing what he wants and expressing himself.

The lesson we can all take from Bobby Vaughn is to never give up on our self-expression.   While not of all of us should get arrested or tattoo all parts of our bodies, the important part is that were all born with a certain set of skills and a certain amount of creativity, and we should never let anyone try to suppress it or tell us that it means nothing.

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