By John E. McIntyre
The Baltimore Sun
11:38 AM EDT, June 21, 2013
The Old Editor says that the crowd doesn't care about the windup; the crowd wants to see the pitch. But there are writers who don't want to throw the ball until they have touched their caps, licked their fingers, shrugged a couple of times, touched their caps again, looked off into the distance, and finally decided to throw the damn ball.
I happened upon a copy of yesterday's Arts section of The New York Times, and in it ... Well, just see.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The mating season has arrived at the Barrington Stage Company. This theatrical outpost in the Berkshires has recreated the habitat of creatures whose ruling imperative is to find sexual partners fast. You will be happy to know that, nature being generous by and large, most of them get — how shall we put it? — lucky. You, in turn, will surely feel lucky to be in their company for a couple of hours.
That is, dateline apart, seventy-one words, including the irritatingly coy "how shall we put it?" and the weak play on lucky. And you, not having the photo to look at and a piece of display type identifying the work being reviewed, probably have not the faintest idea in the world that this self-indulgent rigmarole is about On the Town.
For the last 17 summers it has been one of New York’s more offbeat free diversions: Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, wherein a troupe of actors on a shoestring budget perform “Hamlet,” “Macbeth” and other classics in a municipal lot on the Lower East Side.
The parking lot players always thought of New York City as a silent partner in their endeavor, given that they never paid to use the lot and happily stepped out of the way whenever drivers arrived — sometimes in the middle of a show — in search of a metered space. Indeed, cars were part of the fun, creating theatrical opportunities; last summer performers in “The Merry Wives of Windsor” were sent scurrying when cars started leaving.
But this spring the city’s Department of Transportation sent a surprising e-mail: Because of a change in rules for the agency’s 33 municipal lots, the troupe would have to start reimbursing the city for using empty spaces at the lot on the corner of Broome and Ludlow Streets.
That's two paragraphs, 121 words, of throat-clearing before the revelation arrives that a New York City parking lot is going to charge people for its use, mirabile dictu.
In the five years since it converted itself into a contemporary art hall, with one of the largest open exhibition floors in the world, the Park Avenue Armory has helped realize several gargantuan and difficult projects. The Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto remade the space into a science-fiction spider web, swathing it with thousands of feet of Lycra. Ann Hamilton installed swings from the trusses, turning visitors into participants in an ethereal moving sculpture.
But until now the Armory has never taken on work with quite the same kind of difficulties presented by that of Pail McCarthy, a revered Los Angeles video artist and sculptor. For his exhibition that opened on Wednesday — “WS,” a retelling of the Snow White story — the Armory, which has developed a reputation as a family-friendly destination, made the unusual decision, with Mr. McCarthy’s agreement, to restrict visitors to those over 17. And even for adult visitors, the Armory has built a virtual phalanx of warnings: advisories about the show’s graphic content on its Web site, on placards in front of its large oak doors, and inside the building before the entry to the exhibition itself.
That's 139 words before we get to the key phrase "to restrict visitors to those over 17." We should all be grateful to the tireless copy editors of The New York Times who write headlines that give the game away, potentially sparing us the task of plunging through whatever thicket the writer has planted in front of his point.
Not that The Times completely neglects the old-fashioned get-to-the-point summary lead. Here's one from the same section front:
Sotheby’s, the auction house that has for centuries put other people’s treasures up for sale, is in the early days of exploring whether it should place one of its own on the block: its glittering glass-and-granite-fronted worldwide headquarters on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
See that? Sotheby's, an auction house, may put ts own building on the block. It would be clever and delicious if it were not so obvious an opening.
Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun