Poetry Under the Moon

In an ethereal move, I applied to read an original work in homage to the moon at a poetry event recently.

A few weeks later, I found myself standing under the lunar-light of Luke Jerram, the multi-disciplinary artist who created Museum of the Moon.

According to his website, Jerram’s Moon measures seven metres in diameter and includes detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface. Perhaps more importantly, the exhibit also serves as an overhang to any number of events, from concerts to lectures, parties to yoga classes, and symposia to poetry readings.

Masked, in a dark room, facing a great crowd and a formidable set of stage stairs, I spoke my truth under the moon.

It was beautiful.

(C) jaclyn c. stevenson

Darkening Doors: Macabre Pittsfield Walking Tours

The October offerings in the Berkshires have gained a formidable addition with Macabre Pittsfield Walking Tours, created and lead by writer and historian (and friend of the blog) Joe Durwin.

Because I couldn’t write it better myself, here’s the Durwinian description of the experience: “Embark on a journey through a downtown Pittsfield far removed from what we know today. A place of desecrated graves and skeletons in church basements, of rumsellers shacks, opium dens, and murders most foul…”

Indeed, the tour in its October 18 form (no two tours are the same) began on the Pittsfield Common, which was once a cemetery with a serious grave-robbing problem, and crept its way through the heart of the city.

Stops along the route included the site of the former courthouse, alleys that once led to houses of ill-repute, and the spot where the old rail-station delivered some of Pittsfield’s most colorful visitors — all brought back to life through impeccably researched stories of both fact and folklore. For one, medical students were apparently ruthless in the 1800s, particularly when it came to cadavers.

An added bonus of the tour is multiple stops also showcase the Berkshire Lightscapes project, which aims to illuminate downtown buildings and spaces in downtown Pittsfield through animated LED light systems. It’s a nice touch, especially when the topic turns to UFO sightings and alien encounters.

Word on the street is some kid-friendly tours are in the works for next season… though I’m also personally hopeful that these tours will continue in the warmer months. There’s nothing quite like scaring groups of tourists by the dozen.

Oh Say, Can you Sew? Met Gala 2021 Goes American

The first Monday in May it is not; but the Met Gala has returned, and with it my on-theme opinions about who wore it best.

This year – well, last year, but let’s not dwell on pandemic angst – the theme of the slightly delayed Costume Institute’s exhibition and accompanying fundraising gala is In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, an exploration of fashion in the United States.

As is now standard at the Met Gala, some in attendance mastered the theme, some shoe-horned themselves into it, and some didn’t get the memo at all.

Those who did get the gist of Anna Wintour’s wishes came bearing ensembles that told stories of American fashion, whether the designer at hand was American or not. Others showcased American fashion proper, with varying results, and the third group came dressed for a party without much more to offer to the narrative than thousands of Swarovski crystals, but that’s something.

With deference to the kids who did their homework, here are my top picks for ’21:

Amanda Gorman in Vera Wang wanted to represent a “re-envisioned Statue of Liberty.”

Maisie Williams in bespoke Reuben Selby and Cartier jewelry was inspired by The Matrix, which is an American movie I guess, so ok.

Janet Mock also adopted a looser interpretation of In America, drawing inspiration from Lena Horne and Dorothy Dandridge in Valentino.

Iman, in Dolce and Gabbana x Harris Reed, probably would’ve won the night even if this jaw-dissolving look didn’t carry with it a perfect representation of the night’s theme. Reed is a British-American designer who, as his website states, fights “for the beauty of fluidity.”

Timothee Chalamet in Haider Ackerman, Rick Owens, and Converse called this an homage to Chuck Taylor. I gathered on Twitter that not everyone agrees with me, but like Iman, he’s mixed American designers and influences with international designers for a look I think is new, interesting, and on-theme.

Adam and Monica Mosseri went local with their interpretations of In America, with their neighboring San Franciscan designer Kamperett creating Monica’s dress and BODE New York, which works with vintage and antique fabrics, Adam’s Tux.