New York City Blog July 20 – July 27 from Portland, OR.

Cris Land and I met at Doug Fir on Portland’s East Burnside. I wanted to interview Cris because he is transexual. I was nervous, feeling a little guilty because I was going to ask personal questions. How did he get that way? You know, changing body parts, especially the sexual ones. I had written down some questions: When did you become aware of your gender? What were your greatest sources of help and support? Do you connect your gender change with sex? How did your partner react to your transition? Did you have medical insurance? Do you have a transgender community? As soon as I’ve written the interview and received Cris’s approval, I’ll post it.

In reply to the Israeli lawmaker’s call for genocide of Palestinians getting thousands of Facebook likes, Tom Siracuse, the chair of the NYC Green Party wrote: I’m not surprised. I’ve heard these arguments from many:
1. Muslims in general and Palestinians in particular are incorrigible fanatics and are incapable of co-existence with Jews or negotiating in good faith. Either they are forced out or killed, or that is what they will do to the Jews.
2. “Palestinians” are a made up entity with no valid claim to the Holy Land. They are Arabs who migrated into the Holy Land from Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, etc. and should go back where they came from. Only the Jews have an historical and religious right to live in the Holy Land.
3. The Nazi Holocaust, Czarist pogfroms, Jewish persecutions and expulsions over the centuries prove that only an exclusive Zionist state for Jews can guarantee safety for world Jewry.

Did I leave out any other justification to get rid of the Palestinians?

Portlandia: Roses are grown in gardens, on sidewalks, in parks and honored in the public library carpets.

Portland Roses on Market Street

Portland Roses on Harrison Street

A rose covered carpet at the Portland library

A rose covered carpet at the Portland library

Cosy, civic, and charming: How about a library on a tree? This one is at Market and 34 Ave.

Portland Tree Library

Portland Tree Library

Some friends and I celebrated an important birthday at a restaurant in the 1883 Ladd Carriage House, one of the few remaining nineteenth century mansions.The Carriage House has been moved several times and is now on its original site.
We went to a charming Portland fixture, the Clinton theater, to see a very New York documentary about the venerable Nat Hentoff. The Clinton is in a little enclave of nineteenth century buildings. Portland is having a real estate boom. Good bye space and skyline.

New York City Blog July 13 – July 19 from Portland, OR.

The Portland, OR. week began at The Living Room, a combination eatery and movie house, so dear to my heart. Eating during “Life Itself” requires a strong stomach. It’s Roger Ebert’s story and many of the scenes take place after his jaw was removed. My favorite parts were between Ebert and Gene Siskel who cordially hated each other.

Dawson Park in Portland’s north quadrant sponsors free concerts. It’s very casual and friendly. Sometimes, there’s great music.

Dawson Park Singer

Dawson Park Singer

Michael Ellick is leaving Judson Memorial Church. He will be the senior minister at First Congregational UCC in Portland. The 1891 building resembles the Old South Church in Boston. It’s considered one of the few examples of Venetian Gothic architecture in the United States.

Sand castles on Pioneer Square! It’s a nineteen year tradition that takes place in Portland’s living room. The contestants begin early in the morning and build with sand and water until 4 p.m.

 19th Sand Castle Competition

19th Sand Castle Competition

 

New York City Blog July 7 – July 12

I’m taking my annual hiatus in Portland, OR. staying in the best apartment with the best landlady and visiting the best friends in the world. Nauseated yet?

Portland Pals

Portland Pals

Why do I love Portland? One reason is because it reminds me of the Oz books. L. Frank Baum was born in New York State but spent part of his life in the midwest. I think there’s a midwest sensibility about Portland: very middle class, work oriented, courteous and odd. I’ve observed people who could have been the inspiration for the Scarecrow, Jack Pumpkinhead, Ozma and Toto.

Ozma and Toto

Ozma and Toto

More Portlandia: a free Russian concert in Mt. Tabor Park.The band was Chervona and billed as Eastern-Euro Carnival Insanity. I didn’t understand what that means either. Lots of fun: kiddies and oldsters and everybody in between jumping up and down, swirling, whirling to Russian music under the glorious trees of the Mt. Tabor Park.

Tabor Park Russian Festival

Tabor Park Russian Festival

 

Isn’t this a charming stand? Everybody goes to the one and only Powell’s Book Store. Recently, my friends and I attended a book talk about impressed/shanghaied 19th century Portland lads.

Powell's

Powell’s

Mississippi Avenue in Portland’s northwest area celebrated its fair. It was huge, crowded, friendly and hot. The city is going through a heat wave.My friends chose to take a course on herbs. (Portland, you know.) I slipped away to the southeast and went to the Baghdad, a dark, cool movie house that sells food and booze to eat while watching the movie. What bliss. I watched Planet of the Apes, best movie I’ve ever seen. Maybe it was the surroundings.

New York City Blog June 29 – July 5

The ballet maniac and I went to our last ABT performance for this year. Because of a lovely coincidence, we were seated next to some friends I usually run into at a Chinese banquet.It was such fun listening to the gang toss around ballet names from the past and present and complain about the current New York Times dance critic. The performances on stage were equally wonderful. It was Shakespeare’s night: The Dream based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the eponymous The Tempest. The gang gave thumbs up for The Dream, Gillian Murphy and Herman Cornejo. I was the only one who was enthusiastic about The Tempest.

This bronze statue of Fiorello LaGuardia is in LaGuardia Place.I like his chubby figure and dated suit. Thankfully, he’s not draped in a Roman toga. I passed by it on a steamy, humid July 3 after ducking into Bruno’s Bakery to pick up July 4th goodies.

 

Laguardia's Statue

Laguardia’s Statue

Welcome to a gorgeous lush garden in the depths of Brooklyn.

An enchanting Brooklyn garden

An enchanting Brooklyn garden

 

New York City Blog June 22- June 28

The BBC had an article by Stephen Evans about NYC’s Lower East Side. Known these days as Alphabet City, it was once called Kleindeutschland (Little Germany). On June 4th, 1904 more that 1000 people in the city’s German community died. St Mark’s Lutheran Church had chartered a paddle ship, the General Slocum, but a fire broke out. The captain believed it could be contained. It couldn’t. The Slocum Memorial Fountain, dedicated in 1906 and donated by the Sympathy Society of German Ladies, is in Tompkins Square Park.

On a more cheerful note, Saturday night three of us celebrated a birthday at Kafana on Avenue C. Feeling an Italian/Chinese overload? How about Serbian food? We settled on the spicy sausages and ajvar, the delicious pepper, tomato and eggplant spread, washed down with lovely, unpronounceable red wine. Lots of noise, the World Cup was on the TV, and good natured cheering. “Kafana je moja sudbina” means Kafana is my destiny.

Have you ever said to yourself, I will never sit through (fill in with a movie, book, etc.) again? I’m saying that about Swan Lake. The ballet fiend and I left ABT’s Wednesday night’s performance because we were disappointed by David Hallberg’s canceling, the ragged corps de ballet and the uncomfortable seats.

This is not a lime. A friend bought this avocado squash in the Union Square Farmers Market. The recipe will be in next week’s blog.

An Avocado Squash

An Avocado Squash

 

 

 

 

 

New York City Blog: June 15 – June 21

It’s been a busy week.  Diana Vishneya and Marcelo Gomes were superb in the ABT’s GISELLE. Gillian Murphy, as Myrta, the Wiilis’s Queen, and her creepy followers, the corp de ballet were perfect. But the forest was so dark. It was almost as dark as the Charles James’s reverential exhibit at the Met, beautiful but I felt the need of a seeing eye dog.

Charles James's Poster at the Met

Charles James’s Poster at the Met

 
BELLE was predictable and boring. Not even Tom Wilkinson’s performance saved it. I ran into some neighbors, Joe (the man) and Winston (the bird) outside the theatre.
 

Neighbors

Neighbors

MALEFICIENT was lots of fun. Angelica Jolie was her chiseled best. A friend and I saw the movie at AMC 25 in tacky, tourist infested 42nd Street. The movie house’s decor is vaguely Hollywood Egyptian with escalators that go who knows where. Afterwards, to Ginger, a huge Chinese restaurant, where we filled up on duck and Tom Collins. 
 
Mutton chop, anyone? A dear friend took me to Keens. It’s Con Haggerty’s favorite restaurant. He’s Steve Kulchek’s retired uncle. We were offered a reservation at 5:30 or 9:30. We took the earlier hour. Keens has casino lighting. In other words, the minute you enter time doesn’t exist. It’s got everything: great food, great service, great decor, and a great history.
 
Lady Keen over the bar

Lady Keen over the bar

That’s not the Goodyear blimp floating over lower Manhattan, that’s me, having indulged alla Paul Bunyan in two –2 — two restaurants this week.

 

New York City Blog June 9 – June 15

Andrew Berman, indefatigable head of GVSHP

Andrew Berman, indefatigable head of GVSHPI attended the Frank O’Hara plaque unveiling at 441 East 9th Street where O’Hara had lived. It was sponsored by GVSHP, a wonderful organization with the unwieldy name Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. Its head, Andrew Berman, opened the ceremony, shouting above the fire engines, buses and barking dogs that provided a typical 9th street chorus. Frank O’Hara was a dynamo: a poet, a  MOMA curator and an openly gay man. Tony Towle reminisced about O’Hara and read from his “Lunch Poems” collection. Edward Berrigan, son of Ted Berrigan, the poet and a close O’Hara friend, also read.Go to GVSHP Program Encore 6-10-14 to read Towle’s amusing description of the apartment he inherited from O’Hara. If O’Hara did a Rip Van Winkle, what would he think of the computer revolution and the AIDS epidemic?

 

 

 Off to the Frick Collection to hear Curator Xavier F. Salomon describe two paintings by Veronesi and the Parmigianino painting, Schiva Turca. Although her origins are mysterious, she’s neither a slave nor a Turk.  In an early inventory that’s how the painting was identified and the name has remained.
 Finally, I finished reading Simon Schama’s LANDSCAPE AND MEMORY.  His thesis is that every landscape is a combination of the memories and beliefs of the viewer. It was great fun discussing it with gardeners and landscape designers. Did you know there were dragon myths in the Alps? You would if you’d waded through Schama’s fascinating but too long book.

New York City Blog June 1 – June 7

My balletomania friend and I went to American Ballet Theatre to see MANON. The music is by Massenet. I find the story very moving, especially the final scene with the lovers dying in a Louisiana swamp. The dancers were glorious: Diana Vishneva who attracts a large Russian presence, Marcello Gomes and Herman Cornejo, two of the best male dancers performing today.

A friend who helps maintain the west 40th Street Hell’s Kitchen Rooftop Garden invited me to an open house on the Metro Baptist Church’s rooftop. It’s quite a climb – at least six flights and the last one has narrow metal steps meant for tiny feet. The friend told me the ingenious ways the four year old vegetable and flower garden came into existence. The volunteers formed a bucket brigade to get the supplies to the roof. The first season they learned from bitter experience that pigeons are not fooled by balloons and owl statues. That’s why the plots, children’s wading pools, are covered by netting. An added plus is it’s in a wonderful neighborhood for foodies.
Hell's Kitchen Rooftop Kitchen at Metro Baptist Church

Hell’s Kitchen Rooftop Kitchen at Metro Baptist Church

Get thee to the Guggenheim! There’s an extensive exhibit of Italian Futurism. It’s such fun to walk up the ramp and duck into the nooks and crannies. What you miss on the way up you can catch on the way down. In spite of the crowds, the Guggenheim does not seem packed.
Italian Futurist Exhibit at the Guggenheim

Italian Futurist Exhibit at the Guggenheim

On Saturday I went on a Municipal Art Society two hour architectural walk on the Lower East Side. Saturday was one of those NYC days that goes from spring to summer temperatures in a few hours. In spite of the heat, Sylvia Laudien-Meo’s low keyed enthusiasm and knowledge kept up my interest. It’s not Steve Kulchek’s Bowery which he patrolled as a young police officer. Has it changed. Sober, expensively dressed people stream into stark, discreet art galleries. The Bowery still has a raffish quality which, please God, it doesn’t lose in spite of Keith McNally’s new restaurant.
Guillermo Kuitca's oil painting at Sperone Westwater

Guillermo Kuitca’s oil painting at Sperone Westwater

New York City Blog: May 25 – May 31

It was a busy week in  NYC. On Sunday I walked through the annual Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit.It extends from Mercer Street to Fifth Avenue and from North to South the boundaries are East 13th Street and Washington Square South and features crafts, fine art, sculpture, and photography.

 On Memorial Day the Miles Davis’s family celebrated the patriarch’s 88th birthday by unveiling “Miles Davis Way”  with an NYC Block Party at 312 W 77 Street, between Riverside Drive & West End, Davis’s New York neighborhood. Lots of people arrived complete with babies and dogs.
Musicians on Miles Davis's Block

Musicians on Miles Davis’s Block

AT NYCB my ballet fanatic friend and I saw Concerto Barocco, an enchanting classic that debuted in 1961, Other Dances with the divine Tiler Peck. We then sat through Neverwhere, more aptly, Never wear because of the ghastly costumes in the current production or better yet, Never again. It’s a deadly ballet choreographed by Benjamin Millepied. The evening ended on a joyous note: Who Cares?  The Danish principal, Ask la Cour, built like a string bean, danced with the energy of a dynamo.
Fancy Car in Madison Ave.Window

Fancy Car in Madison Avenue Window

My tech advisor and I went to BEA  (Book Expo America), held annually at the Javits Center. By comparison, Times Square is deserted and graveyard quiet. You get the picture. The first order of the day was to find the ladies room down a flight of non-working escalators.  Afterwards, we refreshed ourselves with weak, expensive coffee from a stand that must rake in millions. BUT there is gold in them there pipe vaulted halls. Smiling sweetly at the prison guards who man the entrances we managed to gain entrance to the booths. Lugging and offering copies of my mystery in English and Spanish,
THE LEMROW MYSTERY AND MISTERIO EN EL LEMROW, was much more productive than going to the opening address to indie publishers. We concentrated on Marketing to Libraries and came away with invaluable tips, then on to Book Marketing Strategies and Social Media. After a vile lunch of refrigerated ham and cheese buns we returned to the booths. A long, satisfying, frustrating NYC day.

New York City Blog: May 19 -May 25

On Monday, my ballet crazy pal and I continued our dance marathon by going to ABT”s “Don Quixote” and watched, transfixed, as Ivan Vasiliev flew around the Met stage. Later that week we returned to the Met to see “La Bayadere”. The second act is everything. The corps de ballet was perfect, twenty-four dancers who glided in unison.

Like citing the first robin of spring, I realized the annual Fleet Street celebration was in town when I saw several sailors in sparkling white uniforms gathered around a fire truck. In its 26th year, it celebrates the maritime services. Remember “On the Town”? Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, and Jules Munshin cavorted around 1944 Manhattan in those camp sailor boy outfits.
Sailors examining a fire truck in lower Manhattan

Sailors examining a fire truck in lower Manhattan