Archive for November, 2008

Black Watch and the End of Modern Warfare

November 22, 2008

I’d read the reviews; I knew Black Watch, the hit National Theater of Scotland production now in its second run at St. Ann’s Warehouse, is about serving in Iraq, that it was developed using the actual stories of real soldiers and that it’s a bravura ensemble production. What I didn’t understand until I saw it is that it’s the story of the fabled, almost-three-centuries-old Black Watch Regiment that, in 2006, was “amalgamated” with 5 other Scottish regiments—and that this marked more than the end of a “great tradition”. At the very end of the play, when a disaffected soldier tells his officer why he’s not staying on in the army, I realized that the end of this regiment, which served as a mercenary force all over the world and fought in both world wars, coincides with the end of the whole concept of professional soldiering on which modern warfare has depended. Read on

Blog Identity Crisis

November 16, 2008

I started Beyond the Zeitgeist as a New York City blog—random acts of culture from beyond the zeitgeist. “Culture” in the broadest sense, meaning just about anything out there that took my fancy. Certainly not myself.

It seems a little early for a blog to have an identity crisis. In fact, it’s the author who’s having the identity crisis—in a way, starting this blog has been part of it. It’s a beyond-the-zeitgeist crisis: I lost my very long-term freelance gig, I’ve already had a long and checkered career, and I have to decide whether to relaunch myself in New York City or retire to Mexico, where I can afford to live in moderate comfort without working.

Retiring to Mexico is both tempting and terrifying. On the one hand, it would be in a town—San Miguel de Allende—I’ve stayed in many times, where I have friends. It’s beautiful. I have the offer of a beautiful little house, a casita, on a friend’s property, at a very good rent.

The problem is, I’m a New Yorker. Not born, but bred. I’ve lived here for 43 years—virtually all of my adult life. The layout of Manhattan is part of my brain’s wiring. New York City Ballet seasons are not about “going to the ballet;” they’re part of my identity. Virtually every dancer I came up with has retired—Wendy Whelan is the the only one left—but there are some very interesting younger ones, like Ashley Bouder. Continue reading