New York City Blog — January 15 – January 21

Roman Food? Lead the way. A friend and I met at Rock Center Cafe to enjoy an evening of Roman specialties. Sorry, Chef. Even better than the food is the view of the ice skating rink.

The Rockefeller Center Ice Skating Rink

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We walked a few blocks from Judson Memorial Church to see a recent installation of a group show by abstract artists. Clover Vail has her work on display in a street-level window of a New York University building.

Clover Vail’s Abstract Art

 

What did you do on Inauguration Day? We escaped to Brooklyn and had a late lunch at Peter Lugars.

 

 

COMING SOON:

Graphic Lessons: Recent widow Millie Fitzgerald applies for a private school teaching job, faints on a stabbed and dying man, deals with the only witness to the stabbing – a troubled nine year old, develops a crush on a NYPD detective and her dog dies.

Graphic Lessons: NYPD Detective Steve Kulchek: something’s eating at him: a failed marriage? surviving a car bomb? his girlfriend marrying his corrupt boss? screwing up an important case?

Graphic Lessons: Nine year old Dana is the only witness who overhears three people fighting with George Lopez, the soon to be stabbed Windsor School kitchen worker. Who can she tell? Her mother who never listens or accuses her of lying? Her father who’s started a new family in Singapore?

New York City Blog — January 6 – January 14

I had cataract surgery on my left eye last Friday. I arrived at Eye & Ear on 14th Street at the ungodly hour of 6:30 am, waded through various bureaucratic procedures including a generous check made out to the hospital, had various post-op instructions from kind nurses, i.e. don’t rub you eye, don’t get water in your eye, remember to put in the eye drops. The pre-op scene was very NYC. What did the staff and I, in a dreamy drug induced slumber, talk about? NYC rents. The procedure itself was painless and speedy. While the doctor did whatever eye doctors do, I saw technicolor images à la Star Wars. Afterwards, I feasted on coffee and a blueberry muffin. Don’t you find post-op snacks are always delicious? When I told the volunteer that it was the best coffee I’d ever tasted a bewildered spread across her face. Cataract surgery is the mani-pedi of the medical world. Hallelujah!
The Rev. Micah Bucey is in charge of the thriving arts program at Judson Memorial Church, Three of the four monthly Wednesdays are dedicated to different theatrical voices. Judson’s Dead Darlings is on second Wednesdays. Amanda Duarte, the founder and moderator of Dead Darlings has an engaging tough gal swagger reminiscent of Bette Midler. Dead Darlings refers to rejected, abandoned and/or unfinished work presented by the vibrant writing scene. It’s presented in Judson’s Meeting Room, the place where Sunday services are held. It’s thrilling to see a Christian sanctuary put on its party hat. Drinks and snacks are available, the lighting is upbeat and the whole occasion has a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. This past Wednesday a writer described the adventures he had while writing his first to be published but greatly cut piece in the New York Times; a writer from The Beast read her tale of woe and a gay writer read his reaction to the recent election. Dead Darlings is on YouTube.

 

Amanda Duarte

Judson Memorial Church in party mode

The almost last word: Back to Martin Scorsese’s Silence. I was describing this deeply Catholic film to a lapsed Protestant friend. I complained about the three 17th century Portuguese priests looking and sounding like – guess what – Hollywood actors. The friend described the movie as Boys Town or The Bells of St. Mary’s goes to Japan.

COMING SOON:

Graphic Lessons: Recent widow Millie Fitzgerald applies for a private school teaching job, faints on a stabbed and dying man, deals with the only witness to the stabbing – a troubled nine year old, develops a crush on a NYPD detective and her dog dies.

Graphic Lessons: NYPD Detective Steve Kulchek: something’s eating at him: a failed marriage? surviving a car bomb? his girlfriend marrying his corrupt boss? screwing up an important case?

Graphic Lessons: Nine year old Dana is the only witness who overhears three people fighting with George Lopez, the soon to be stabbed Windsor School kitchen worker. Who can she tell? Her mother who never listens or accuses her of lying? Her father who’s started a new family in Singapore?

New York City Blog — January 1 – January 5

Francis Picabia’s exhibit at MOMA goes from room to room. Each space demonstrating another phase in the French artist’s career. I spent a great deal of my childhood at MOMA, wandering through the galleries, pausing to look at favorites, going to the movies. One of the first painting that fascinated me was Picasso’s Three Musicians. It awakened in me a life long fondness for cubism. Exhibition History at the museum’s website is a wonderful on-line history of the various MOMA exhibits beginning in 1929 to the present.

Mechanical Object
Francis Picabia
MOMA

Francis Picabia
MOMA

Francis Picabia
MOMA

 

I would never have gone to Silence if a friend had not baited me with a delicious Chinese supper before the show. Fortified with duck, dumplings and wine, I steeded myself for a very long movie about Catholicism. I’ve never appreciated Martin Scorsese’s love of violence. The movie was way too long (another Scorsese flaw) and, at times, boring (yet another…) BUT fascinating and beautiful. Also, Scorsese turned on its head the notion of one religion deciding it had the truth and the right to inflict it on other cultures. 17th century? The three western, Portuguese priests spoke in 20th century jargon and looked modern. The Japanese actors in sumptuous, exotic costumes and deliciously weird hair dos conveyed a sense of long ago and far away.

 

COMING SOON:

Graphic Lessons: Recent widow Millie Fitzgerald applies for a private school teaching job, faints on a stabbed and dying man, deals with the only witness to the stabbing – a troubled nine year old, develops a crush on a NYPD detective and her dog dies.

Graphic Lessons: NYPD Detective Steve Kulchek: something’s eating at him: a failed marriage? surviving a car bomb? his girlfriend marrying his corrupt boss? screwing up an important case?

Graphic Lessons: Nine year old Dana is the only witness who overhears three people fighting with George Lopez, the soon to be stabbed Windsor School kitchen worker. Who can she tell? Her mother who never listens or accuses her of lying? Her father who’s started a new family in Singapore?

 

 

New York City Blog — Dec. 23- Dec. 31

It’s the last day of 2016. Oysters for breakfast. Now, I’m luxuriating in the sounds of Bach. WKCR (89.9 FM) transports its devoted listeners back to the seventeenth century with its annual Johann Sebastian Bach Festival that runs from 12/23 to the last minute of the old year.
Two military events: One is from 1962. A friend and I went to the MOMA screening of the Italian film, March on Rome with Vittorio Gassman and Ugo Tognazzi as two desperately poor men who join Mussolini’s black shirts. Their adventures reminded me of Don Quixote: lots of fighting, lots of bewildered and futile idealism.
And one from today: The PBS NewsHour, the bastion of correctness with the headmistress of correctness, Judy Woodruff, had, for once, an amusing segment. Did any one see a division of the military singing A Partridge in a Pear Tree? Absolutely hilarious.

Do the Italians still throw things out the window on New Years Eve? Once upon a time, the Romans got their cars and trucks out of the city or into garages because at midnight bath tubs, chests of drawers and anything else you wanted to get rid of flew out the windows and landed on the city streets.

Happy New Year!

 

 

COMING SOON:

Graphic Lessons: Recent widow Millie Fitzgerald applies for a private school teaching job, faints on a stabbed and dying man, deals with the only witness to the stabbing – a troubled nine year old, develops a crush on a NYPD detective and her dog dies.

Graphic Lessons: NYPD Detective Steve Kulchek: something’s eating at him: a failed marriage? surviving a car bomb? his girlfriend marrying his corrupt boss? screwing up an important case?

Graphic Lessons: Nine year old Dana is the only witness who overhears three people fighting with George Lopez, the soon to be stabbed Windsor School kitchen worker. Who can she tell? Her mother who never listens or accuses her of lying? Her father who’s started a new family in Singapore?

New York City Blog — Dec. 18 – Dec. 23

I’ve been doing my share of eating and drinking this week. Tavern on Jane is a congenial pub on the ultra hot Jane Street and a perfect meeting place for celebrating the season. Another place for celebrating is Morandi. Its signature dish is Carciofi alla Guidea. These deep fried artichokes are crunchy and delicious. I first had them at Giggetto’s in Rome, a restaurant that featured Roman Jewish cooking. It’s on a busy Roman street near Piazza Mattei and the charming turtle fountain.

 

Carciofi alla Giudea
Yummy!

Christmas in Rome: Piazza Navona is filled with shepards down from the mountains playing their sour-sweet melodies while the merchants beseech you to buy trinkets. These days they are usually made in China.
I’m indulging in a Christmas tradition of listening to Prokfiev’s “Peter and the Wolf”.

A very Merry Holiday!

COMING SOON:

Graphic Lessons: Recent widow Millie Fitzgerald applies for a private school teaching job, faints on a stabbed and dying man, deals with the only witness to the stabbing, a troubled nine year old, befriends a lying seventeen year old, develops a crush on a NYPD detective and her dog dies.

Graphic Lessons: NYPD Detective Steve Kulchek: something’s eating at him: a failed marriage? surviving a car bomb? his girlfriend marrying his corrupt boss? screwing up an important case?

Graphic Lessons: Nine year old Dana is the only witness who overhears three people fighting with George Lopez, the soon to be stabbed Windsor School kitchen worker. Who can she tell? Her mother who never listens or accuses her of lying? Her father who’s started a new family in Singapore?

New York City Blog — Dec. 14 – Dec. 17

Standing in line, hoping we’d get in, we got the last two seats in MOMA’s Theater 3 for Big Deal on Madonna Street. Its Italian title is I Soliti Ignoti (The Usual Suspects ). It was directed by Mario Monicelli and had a stellar cast: Vittorio Gassman, Marcello Mastrioanni, Toto, (the beloved Neopolitan wise guy of Italian movies), Renato Salvatori, Claudia Cardinale. And, of course, post-war Rome. The movie dates from 1958 and shows the urban poor scrabbling to survive in gritty Rome. Italy had an awful war: a maelstrom of individual bravery, stoicism, ridicule, suffering, fleeing. and famine. In I Soliti Ignoti there’s a scene in which the inept thieves gobble food they’ve discovered in the house they’re burglarizing. It reminded me of Sophia Lorne eating ravinously in the 1960 masterpiece, Two Women set in the time of World War 2.

Pouring out of a packed, usually quiet restaurant, on Thursday night we went to Carnegie Hall. The NYC buzz was in high gear. Joyce DiDonato, the mezzo soprano, presented In War and Peace: Harmony through Music. As we entered the Hall, we saw Ms. DiDonato sitting stationary on the stage, so still that I thought she was a statue. In addition to her singing there was interpretive dancing by Manuel Palazzo. As light designs shimmered across the stage, Ms. DiDonato, representing War and Peace, sang sections, from among others, Handel and Purcell. Her question to the enthusiastic audience was, In the midst of chaos, how do you find peace?

Joyce DiDonato: In War & Peace:Harmony Through Music

 

 

 

 

 

 
COMING SOON:
Graphic Lessons: Recent widow Millie Fitzgerald applies for a private school teaching job, faints on a stabbed and dying man, deals with the only witness to the stabbing, a troubled nine year old, befriends a lying seventeen year old, develops a crush on a NYPD detective and her dog dies.

New York City Blog — Dec. 5 – Dec. 10.

I never thought I’d describe a musical evening at the Frick Collection as odd. I do after the debut performance of the pianist, Joseph Moog. The musical selections and arrangements suited the late José Iturbi’s very 1940’s movie music. If only the Frick had arranged to have skimpily clad girls rise on a floating fountain and Esther Williams diving off the ceiling. The (un)repentant Magdalena in the next room could have joined in. Afterwards, we had fun and delicious food at nearby Le Charlot.

Lucinda Childs Dance Company is at the Joyce. We went to a thrilling performance of DANCE, first performed in 1979. A film of the original production was flashed on the stage as the modern dancers, like champion race horses, galloped across the stage to Philip Glass’s throbbing music. We were practically part of the action since we were seated in the second row.

Once again down memory lane. This time it was with Merce Cunningham’s Beach Birds (1991). Eleven dancers recreated most of the piece in one of the City Center studios on 56th Street. John Cage’s liquid tone, barely audible, set a dreamy, quiet atmosphere. It was forty minutes of sustained pleasure. Among the superb dancers were Mac Twining and Monica Gonzalez.

COMING SOON:
GRAPHIC LESSONS: Recent widow Millie Fitzgerald applies for a private school teaching job, faints on a stabbed and dying man, deals with the only witness to the stabbing, a troubled nine year old, befriends a lying seventeen year old, develops a crush on a NYPD detective and her dog dies.

New York City Blog — Nov. 30 – Dec. 4.

We went to a delightful talk by Frick Curator, Xavier F. Salomon, about an almost forgotten seventeenth-century Italian painter, Guido Cagnacci. The main focus was on Cagnacci’s weird and wonderful “Repentant Magdalene”. It’s on loan from the Norton Simon museum. Travels with Cagnacci was the name of the lecture. By means of erudition, dry wit, a charming accent and video, Curator Salomon took us on a little trip around Emilia-Romagna to the birthplace of the eccentric and gifted Guido Cagnacci. Curator Salomon also gave an evocative picture of what it’s like to be in provincial Italy, away from the tourism of Venice, Rome and Bologna. After the talk, we walked four blocks north to the restaurant, Caravaggio. So appropriate, don’t you think?

On Thursday night I took my slightly schizophrenic self to a Green Party Meeting at the LGBTQ Building. There were about forty of us stuffed into an airless room. I recognized the regulars and listened to a new group who were joining the Greens under the banner Bernie Greens.The question of why Jill Stein had collected and spent seven million dollars to investigate voting fraud in three states was raised and quickly, too quickly, shelved. The same thing happened about the question of open primaries.

Friends and I went to “A Chanticleer Christmas” at  the church of St. Ignatius Loyola. It’s an exhilarating experience to sit in an enormous, cell free zone and listen to twelve men singing in their countertenor to bass voices a medley of carols, medieval and Renaissance music.
The Gospel according to Rex Stout: Black Orchid is an organization dedicated to mystery writer Rex Stout, the creator of Nero Wolfe, Archie Goodwin, Fritz etc. I attended their annual dinner at the Arno Restaurant on West 38th Street. The restaurant itself could have stepped out of the pages of a Stout mystery.
Was his Quaker upbringing responsible for his reasoned approach to life? Some memorable quotes are: If my garbage has been tampered with I don’t know if it’s the FBI or the raccoon. My subconscious and I are not on speaking terms.
In addition to dinner, we indulge in quizzes based on the books and Wolfean lore. Stout was a foodie so, of course, his culinary obsession fits in perfectly with our modern interest in food and drink.
From Too Many Cooks: Nero Wolfe says, “I do not soil myself cheaply; I charge high fees.”

New York City Blog — Nov. 19 – Nov. 26

After a scrumptious and CHEAP meal and lovely Tom Collins at Ginger’s, a friend and I walked nine blocks south to the National Opera Center at 28th Street and Seventh Avenue. Fabrizio Melano directed “An Evening With Us,“ a series of scenes and arias. “Au fond du temple saint,” the duet from Georges Bizet’s 1863 opera, Les pêcheurs de perles was, for me, the high point of the evening. Generally known as “The Pearl Fishers’ Duet”, it’s a golden oldie. The tenor, Has Son Kim, was wonderful. The last time I heard it was at a church recital in Santa Fe. Roberto De Blasio, the Italian tenor, sang the Nadir role. He was perfect – unlike the night before when he had been Don José in Stephen Lawless’s Carmen at the Santa Fe opera. The ghastly production was set in the 1960s. De Blasio stalked around the state in Elvis regalia being very manly.

Sunday late afternoons are often spent in the Frick Collection’s Music Room. On. November 20 the Atos Trio (violin, cello, piano) played primarily nineteenth century French composers. Their opening piece was Claude Debussy’s Trio in G Major. This season the Frick concert tickets include a brief historical note about an artist working at the same time as the featured composers. We leaned from the note that Claude Debussy was a friend of Edgar Degas. In the Frick’s North Hall is a Degas painting, “Rehearsal”. It portrays ballerinas rehearsing. They are accompanied by a very sad violinist whose forlorned expression rivets me. One of my favorite masochistic daydreams is the thought of dying in the poor house i. e. the women’s room in Penn Station. The violinist’s gnarled hands, his lined face and drooping baggy face are in sharp contrast to the ballerinas’ limber, young legs.

New York City Blog — Nov. 13- Nov. 19

Hasn’t it been a rocky week? How many conversations have begin with I don’t want to talk about the election and then you talk about it ad nauseam.

A Facebook friend posted this:
Kakistocracy
PRONUNCIATION:
(kak-i-STOK-ruh-see, kah-ki-)
MEANING:
noun: Government by the least qualified or worst persons.
ETYMOLOGY:
From Greek kakistos (worst), superlative of kakos (bad) + -cracy (rule). Ultimately from the Indo-European root kakka-/kaka- (to defecate), which also gave us poppycock, cacophony, cacology, and cacography. Earliest documented use: 1829.
From my limited Italian I recall that caca is Italian for poop.

Friends and I attended the second session of Studio 5. It  focused on The Creative Forces Behind the Nederlands Dans Theater.

 

NDT Dancers

NDT Dancers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To the Guggenheim. It’s one of my favorite museums. Most people take the elevator to the top floor and then walk down. I prefer to walk both ways. There isn’t a bad view in the place. The Moholy-Nagy exhibit was a beautifully mounted exhibit. The artist experimented with the innovative materials of the early twentieth century such as plastic. Alice Martin is the current show. At first I thought my lousy eyesight was kicking in. We walked closer to the blank canvases and I finally got it. It’s painting composed of grids and stripes. For me it was like a textile show. That’s one of the joys of the Guggenheim. There’s always the unexpected.

 

From the Met's Jerusalem exhibit: The Archangel Israfil

From the Met’s Jerusalem exhibit: The Archangel Israfil

From there we trotted ten blocks south to the Met. The Met has nerve. The exhibit, Valentin de Boulogne, was presented as Beyond Caravaggio. A more apt name would have been Way Behind Caravaggio. The Jerusalem exhibit was very moving. Wandering among the mounted artifacts of the many cultures that have passed through and being surrounded by the evocative photography of this ancient crossroads is moving and frightening.

 

 

To my shame, I almost skipped the Pierre Gouthière: Virtuoso Gilder at the French Court at the Frick Collection. I didn’t. It’s wonderful. If you want a full rush of what the eighteenth century French privileged classes were buying, often without paying, from superb craftsmen and artists run do not walk to the exhibition. Keep in mind that Gouthière who handled gold all his working life died in poverty.