Back home for about 5 seconds
This year is turning out to be like a series of the Amazing Race, in 10 weeks I've been on 19 planes. I feel personally responsible for global warming, sort of.
Anyway, back to New York - Annie Ross was pretty fab. She's in her 70s now, and was performing in this very small jazz club, to an audience of about 20 people. We were sitting right up close to her - a bit too close in fact. She could have spat on me if she'd wanted. I desperately wanted to ask her to impersonate being turned into a robot in Superman 3 but decided to play it cool and simply smile at her instead (but not in an almost-stalker way like I did with Gina Gershon when I saw her in the Vagina Monologues).
After New York, we flew to Salt Lake City for a conference that was taking place in Sundance (of the film festival and Butch Cassidy fame). Sundance is practically up a mountain and there was a lot of snow, so every day the conference started late as we had to wait for snow ploughs to clear the road for us. The ride from the airport to Provo, where we were staying, was utterly depressing - mile after mile of souless out-of-town shopping centres - in dull contrast to the stunning mountain scenery. Everyone drives (seemingly). To give an example, while we waited in the lobby of the motel, this car pulled up, a man got out, went to the front desk and pulled a remote control out of his pocket. I thought he must have packed it in his case by mistake or something, and had come back to the motel to return it. But no - he was a guest at the motel and was reporting that the remote control wasn't working - rather than walk from his motel room to the lobby, he had driven there.
The other weird thing about Utah was all the Mormons. The people who organised the conference accidentally referred to each other as "Brother Smith" rather than Professor Smith, which was quite interesting to note. Mormoms (or the ones I saw), were all rather jolly and somewhat asexual and innocent - it's like they don't have irony or sarcasm. Worst of all, coffee was banned at the conference (or not available at least). By the first afternoon, a group of us got headaches, so we managed to sweet-talk a kind Mormon into driving us down off the mountain so we could find coffee elsewhere. For the rest of the afternoon, we felt like bad high school kids, cutting class to do drugs. Except in reality we were sad middle-aged, caffine-addicted academics. It's a sorry state of affairs when the oldies are cooler than the students.
Speaking of High School - I read High School Confidential - a "participant observation" study about a 24 year old guy who goes undercover at a high school, pretending to be a 17 year old and learning to fit in with the popular kids. It's well-written in an initially confusing way. The author describes the same couple of weeks from the perspective of 6 different students: a weird geek girl, a bitchy "slut", a prom queen, a steroid-injecting athlete, a thug kid and an evangelical Christian. I identified most with the Christian. Maybe all that relgion in Utah is rubbing off...