Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pomp Cabaret

This year’s PEN World Voices Cabaret was packed with award winning novelists, slam poet champions, rock icons, and some of the most attractive actors around.

The celebrity performance of the evening was a one-act adaptation of Jonathan Franzen’s New York chapter in State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America. The protagonist is Jonathan Franzen, played by James Franco.

Midwestern lad romanced by NYC in the ‘70s, Franzen/Franco returns in hopes of interviewing a personification of the state, played with seductive haughtiness by Patricia Clarkson. However, before he can reach his lost love, Franzen is intercepted by Manhattan’s publicist Parker Posey. With an obnoxious sense of entitlement, PR flack tells Franzen the rules—he mustn’t mention New York’s dirty decades: “'65 to '85.” Finally reuniting with his beloved state, he finds she has long forgotten his existence.

Despite the actors reading off scripts, every member of the ensemble was remarkable at capturing nostalgia, sarcasm and humor. The performance truly lived up to the hype of its cast. Plus no complaints about sitting feet away from James Franco’s gorgeous smile.

My most anticipated couple of the evening, Lou Reed and his wife Laurie Anderson, took the stage to thunderous applause. I was unprepared for the magnitude of trip that occurs when their forces combine. I felt like I was on a spaceship, watching Earth destroy itself.

Laurie Anderson began the set speaking into a voice synthesizer making her sound like a man-robot. “How do we begin again? What are days for?” she asked, as the theater filled with disorienting electronics, shadowed by Reed’s guitar. True to form, Anderson’s lyrics were thought provoking and disturbing, eerily blending with the backdrop cacophony.

Lou Reed sang for two songs, his dead pan evoking raw emotion “a younger man, getting older … I hold a mirror to my face.”

Many audience members fled for exits. I stayed to the end, mesmerized by two of my heroes.

Leaving Florence Gould Hall, passing Parker Posey in the street, I felt like I was coming down from an acid trip on a UFO (Lou and Laurie’s, most likely).

-Hannah Miet


Smokeythebear said...

i would love to light up some pineapple express with everyone in this blog

Anonymous said...

I find the photo of Franco asleep hilarious. More for the fact that some Columbia student felt compelled to photograph him. Let's face it...we've all been there.

Anonymous said...

Yes! There are stalker/lurkers EVERYWHERE

Anonymous said...

thanks for this play-by-play. hope you don't mind that I've linked to it from Twitter.com/JamesFrancoNews

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing...I so wanted to make that event but missed the chance to get tickets!...I recently had the chance to sit only feet from that GORGEOUS JF smile at MoMA "An Evening With Carter ERASED James Franco 2008...Yummie :-)

Anonymous said...

So carelessly sexy. Not fair, Franco, spread the wealth.

Lee said...

Well done! Makes me wish I had been there!