In the fall of 1969, Vivian Gornick walked into the offices of The Village Voice looking for work, and met with two of the paper’s founders, Edwin Fancher and Dan Wolf.
“They said, there are all these women who call themselves liberationist chicks gathering out there on Bleecker Street — go out and write a story about them,” Ms. Gornick, now 83, recalled. The pay was lousy.
That was The Voice. She didn’t know what they were talking about, and neither did they, but by the end of the week she had not just a story but a life’s calling.
“They’re like moths,” said Mr. Frühauf, genially, of his customers. “As soon as the lights go on, they come.”
With that, he got back to work, stacking not books, but rows of freshly baked bread rolls sprinkled with poppy, pumpkin, flax, sesame or sunflower seeds that have brought townspeople flocking. Next to him stood a small refrigerator hung with “ahle wurst” — a delicious air-dried, salami-like pork sausage that is one of the region’s culinary specialties — while in the center aisle, organic tomatoes and cucumbers vied with crime novels for table space.
As opera-lovers know, the machine is the mammoth and ambitious — but also notoriously noisy and glitch-prone — centerpiece of Robert Lepage’s high-tech production of Wagner’s epic “Ring” cycle. When it worked, it could be mind-blowing: The 45-ton set of narrow planks rotated into sculptural sets bathed in vivid video imagery, taking operagoers from the depths of the Rhine to the downfall of the gods over the course of four operas.
But it could also be exasperating. Over the years, the machine produced clicks, clunks, groans and some Wagnerian-scale mishaps. Projections of Brünnhilde’s mountain were briefly replaced at one point with an all-too-recognizable Microsoft Windows logo. A mechanical glitch delayed the start of a performance of “Die Walküre” for 45 minutes — as 175,000 impatient Wagnerites waited in cinemas around the world for a live simulcast to begin.
When you have a tour guide as engaging as Eric Idle, you’ll gladly go wherever he takes you. The writer and comedian best known as a member of the British sketch troupe Monty Python has curated an intimate journey of what it was like to be a writer who suddenly found himself a massively famous actor.
And ultimately, it's a portrait of being a young woman trying to make a living from something creative, feeling hopeful and infinite about the possibilities that surround her. It's a balm, for anyone like herself. After all, it's what Hopper says to herself after reading Julie Doucet: "It's reassuring and inspiring that you don't have to be Mark Rothko — pacing and cursing and suicidal — in order to be an artist.