Friday, November 3 2006
setting: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, New York, US&A
Gretchen had arranged for us to spend the weekend in Greenwich Village. We'd be staying in David's apartment (he of Penny and David fame; though married, they both maintain separate apartments in Manhattan as well as a weekend house in Marbletown). We'd be attending the opening night of Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan and then seeing a Mozart opera.
Again we took the train, and from Penn Station we took the subway down to "The Village" (as Gretchen insists it is called). David's apartment is in a building in the center of it all, near one of the few places in the city where a numbered street crosses another numbered street, a place where the orderly uptown grid tries futilely to persist in the jumble of an ancient ad hoc arrangement of medieval streets. David lives at the top of a fifth floor walkup, in a long, narrow, reasonably spacious apartment. He'd decorated most of his walls with large posters from countries where posters are not usually printed in English.
Penny was off at a ballet but David came with us to Borat. We took a cab to a Kips Bay, a theatre near 30th Street and 2nd Avenue, and there we met our friends Ray and Nancy as well as Doug and Sharon. Ray still had a persistent scab on his forehead from a summertime poison ivy incident. (He says that abrasion wounds heal slowly for diabetics.)
Since it was opening night for Borat, the thousand-seat theatre was packed to capacity. (Doug and Sharon had bought our tickets ahead of time for all of us.) It seems there's a certain electricity in the theatre when one sees a movie on opening night, and its voltage runs higher in New York City and through thicker wires when the movie is partly about New York City and you're seeing it on opening night in New York City. Throughout the movie, the crowd was roaring with laughter, but it was hard to tell since I my self was also laughing. It was a movie in which Americans were blugeoned with their own provincialism using a character whose contrived provincialism fit perfectly with the American notion of the "rest of the world." In the process, all sorts of shocking material was presented, ranging from the casual acceptance of rapists and children with guns to mock anti-Semitism in which Jews are imagined capable of transforming themselves into pillbugs. With this ultrahip New York audience, however, the only time Borat went too far and elicited a collective gasp was when he told a woman to her face that she wasn't as sexy as the other women in the room. Sharon and Gretchen noticed that the "Kazakh" being spoken between Borat and Azamat, his "producer," was mostly Hebrew, another wickedly-clever joke in a wickedly-clever (and delightfully subversive) movie.
After the movie we all went out for Indian food, and then a subset of us hit a trendy bar for overpriced drinks.
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