Tina Turner: By the Book

“What books do you find yourself returning to again and again?

‘In 2017, my kidneys were failing and I went through a prolonged period of dialysis. Every time I went to the clinic, I brought the same three books with me: The Book of Secrets, by Deepak Chopra, The Divine Comedy, by Dante, and a book of photography by the extraordinary Horst P. Horst. I needed something for the spirit, something for the intellect and something for the senses, and the ritual of studying the same books while I was undergoing treatment was comforting to me because it imposed order on a situation I couldn’t otherwise control.’

“You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited?

‘I like a dinner party to be a lively mixture of different kinds of people — young, old and everything in between. So my first choice would be Dante — after all my years of studying The Divine Comedy, I need to ask him a lot of questions! I could be his Beatrice! Since I can’t choose between Anne Rice and Stephen King, I’d set places for both of them. Their books have kept me awake for many a night because there’s nothing I enjoy more than a good scare! And I’d definitely serve Thai food, because I like things spicy.’ ” […]    –Jillian Tamaki, The New York Times, October 18, 2018

‘Dante’s Inferno isn’t hot enough for you,’ says judge

“STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Earlier this month, Anthony Morales admitted to slaying a neighbor and her son on a Mariners Harbor street two years ago.

“But the stocky 51-year-old defendant didn’t apologize for their deaths at his sentencing on Wednesday. Instead, Morales presented himself as the victim, claiming the decedents had harassed and tormented ceaselessly over the years, had followed him to a home he owned in Pennsylvania and had ‘come looking for’ him on the day they died.

“State Supreme Court Justice Mario F. Mattei listened patiently to Morales’ rambling seven-minute monologue in his St. George courtroom packed with the victims’ distraught relatives. And when Morales finally sat down, the judge didn’t mince words or hide his disdain.” […]    –Frank Donnelly, SiLive, May 30, 2018

BenDeLaCreme’s Rising Up Into Dante’s Inferno Down Below

“I must confess, and not in a catholic kind of way, because that kind of on your knees religion has nothing to do with the uproarious show, BenDeLaCreme’s Inferno-a-Go-Go currently damning us all to hell at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in Hell’s Kitchen, naturally. But it does have a lot of a lot to say about the other kind of on-your-knees kinda praying. My confession revolves around the simple fact that I do not watch RuPaul’s Drag Race, nor have I ever heard of one of the most well known contestants, the heavenly smart and witty BenDeLaCreme, the creator/performer/writer and all around mastermind of the show.  I only came to this show because one of my best friends was sitting next to me when I got the press invite, and he squealed like an excited pig when I asked him if I ever heard of a creature called BenDeLaCreme. (I can write this statement, because I’m pretty darn sure he’ll never read this review as there are just far too many words for his liking.)” […] –Ross, Times Square Chronicles, May 25, 2018

The Nine Circles of DMV Hell

“Dante has nothing on Jason Greene, who stood in line at the DMV for an entire day… With three kids.

“Dante once wrote that Hell had nine circles within its depths. Dante’s Inferno is an amazing literary work that describes in great detail the horror of a place where no person wishes to go. Dante must have been inspired by a trip to the local DMV.

“You see, I recently journeyed into an inferno of abandoned hope, discomfort, and pain when I was forced to visit the Queens DMV. Like Dante, I encountered the nine circles of Hell, though not necessarily in the same order. But first, some backstory . . .

“We recently bought a new vehicle and we needed to get new plates. The month had been difficult and harried and we didn’t get the title from the dealership until our temporary tags were almost set to expire. Unfortunately, only a short time before, I lost my wallet and everything in it. I ordered a new license, but since it had not arrived and the tags were set to expire the next day, we had no choice but to try to register without it. The story gets more complicated; my wife had to leave town at the last minute for business and the title is in both of our names.

“Now, none of that should have been a problem. Before my wife left, she signed all the necessary paperwork, including a form that gave me the right to make all decisions on her behalf. We even had contacted the DMV to make sure that we were walking in with all the correct paperwork and to verify that I could do the deal without a license. They assured us that all would be fine.” [. . .]    –Jason Greene, The Good Men Project, September 15, 2012.

All was not fine for Jason Greene at the DMV. Read Greene’s account of the circles of DMV Hell here.

Satan To Add East Ave Wegmans Parking Lot As Tenth Circle Of Hell

“Rochester, NY– Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence, Fraud, Treachery. These are the nine circles of hell, but today is a big day. Satan has just announced that this year they are set to add the east avenue Wegmans parking lot as a much awaited tenth circle of hell. We spoke with the leader of hellfire himself to see how excited he is for this new addition.

“’You know, the minute I drove into the east avenue Wegmans parking lot, I knew it was a match made in hell. Seriously, it has to be one of the most disorganized, chaotic messes I’ve ever seen or had to be apart of! This is coming from a guy who single-handedly created the bubonic plague! I mean I love Wegmans, don’t get me wrong, but were they trying to create a new circle of hell for me? It feels like it, you know I thought the circle of gluttony and lust was a pretty raw deal, but I can’t wait to see the face on some of the newcomers when they realize they’re stuck in a never-ending bumper to bumper of the Wegmans parking lot. Very excited for this new addition and I can’t wait to hear some of the feedback from the regulars’” [. . .]    —The Inner Loop, February 13, 2017.

Inferno by Franz von Stuck (1908)

Inferno. Franz von Stuck (1908)
Oil on canvas.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY

“This painting’s title refers to Dante Alighieri’s medieval epic of a journey through hell. Although Stuck employed traditional symbols of the underworld—a snake, a demon, and a flaming pit—the dissonant colors and stylized, exaggerated poses are strikingly modern. He designed the complementary frame. Stuck’s imagery was likely inspired by Auguste Rodin’s The Gates of Hell, particularly the figure of The Thinker (see related works nearby). When Inferno debuted in an exhibition of contemporary German art at The Met in 1909, critics praised its ‘sovereign brutality.’ The picture bolstered Stuck’s reputation as a visionary artist unafraid to explore the dark side of the psyche.”    —The Met on Franz von Stuck’s Inferno.

To see the artwork that von Stuck was influenced by with this piece, check out The Met’s website.

Nine Circles of Columbia Hell

Artwork by Charlotte Voelkel/Head Spectrum Illustrator, Columbia Daily Spectator, March 30, 2016

Penn Station and the Circles of Hell

“On March 8, 2016, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo compared America’s least-loved train station, Penn Station, to ‘the seven levels of hell.’ Here’s the full quote:

‘It is a disgrace. More people go through Penn Station every day than Newark, Kennedy, and La Guardia airports combined. It’s the most heavily traveled transportation hub in the hemisphere, and imagine what they say when they get off: “This is New York? Looks like the seven levels of hell. I’m in New York?”‘ [. . .]

“Penn Station is so viscerally awful that you can’t help but look for sin in relation to this place as causes for, results of, or simply in association with, its awfulness. So let’s humor the Governor and his imperfect analogy and try to map these different sins to activity occurring in (or near) Penn Station. I’ll be the Virgil to your Dante. Come with me across the River Acheron, or in this case, the stream of vomit and human misery running along West 34th Street.” [. . .]    –Mark Lee, Overthinking It, March 18, 2016.

You can read the full article at Overthinking It.

Dante, Cocktail Bar (NYC)

Under new ownership since 2015, this NYC institution was named #16 of the world’s 50 best bars. Rechristened “Dante” (formerly Caffe Dante), the cocktail bar boasts registered landmark status and 100+ years of serving New York’s cultural elite.

Dante-NYC-Cocktail-Bar-2015From the Dante-NYC website: “Dante has been a beacon for the community of Greenwich Village since it opened its doors in 1915. Now a registered New York City landmark, this modest meeting house has always attracted people from all walks of life: famous actors, writers and musicians to the down at heel of the beatnik generation, all of whom have found solace in its relaxed & unpretentious environs. A place where a cup of espresso, a warm smile or a friendly embrace epitomized life’s simple pleasures.

“Now in its latest incarnation as Dante, its new owners, all lifelong industry professionals and old friends, have breathed new life into this iconic space. Its historical integrity and sense of community remain firmly in tact but now complemented by an elevated selection of modern Italian cuisine, world class cocktails and an award winning bar program. Welcome to Dante 2017, where everything old is new again.” Read the rest of the story here.

Caffe Dante had previously appeared on the Dante Today website. The original post is here.

Their “Dante”-branded ice-cube appeared on the site in 2016.

Unlikely Pairing Turns to Intense Affinity at Carnegie

The pianist Daniil Trifonov and the baritone Matthias Goerne performing at Carnegie Hall (2018)

 

[…]  “And in a stunning contrast, Wolf’s ultra-melodious treatments of somewhat static reflections by Michelangelo gave way immediately to Shostakovich’s more angular renderings of that Renaissance genius’s more politically charged defense of Dante, and his praise of sleep, oblivion and death in the face of vice and criminality. These songs carry the listener almost to the realm of, say, Mussorgsky’s “Songs and Dances of Death,” which Shostakovich orchestrated.” […]    –James R. Oestreich, The New York Times,  February 7, 2018