New York City Blog — February 12 – February 18

 

I saw I Am Not Your Negro, the civil rights documentary. The director, Raoul Peck, uses James Baldwin’s writings to illustrate what it’s like to be Black. It’s uncomfortable and enlightening. Baldwin takes on a Professor Weiss on the Dick Cavett show. The Professor says that Baldwin talks too much about being a Negro. How eloquently Baldwin runs through all the reasons he is made aware of his color. It made me reflect on how ignorant I am of the daily pain most Blacks experience. In my apartment building the black father of a big, black teenager would always precede his son into the elevator. The father greeted the people in the elevator and pasted a pleasant expression on his face. I think he was protecting his son from the looks of horror, fear flashing from Whites’ eyes.

I Am Not Your Negro poster

A black, gay friend of mine said that when you are born Black, you have a permanent cloud over you. Thanks to this documentary and to the patience of Blacks I’m beginning to be dimly aware of how lucky I am and how stressful black lives can be. I’m sorry.

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 — February 4 – February 11

Monday, we celebrated Chinese New Year at Evergreen Restaurant. It’s an annual event for eating delicious food, wondering if I should buy a lazy susan and greeting dear friends.

Jazz at Tribeca was cancelled because of the snow storm. I leaned out the window and gazed at the Empire State Building in bridal white, much my favorite color for the stately building. This is my cousin’s photo.

Michal Heron’s photo of the Empire State Building

 

Alex Guarnaschelli’s Butter Restaurant is in the basement of a midtown hotel. You go down the stairs into a dark, enormous space. Uh-oh, the first thing you see is a Sports Bar TV. Not to worry. Our reservation, during Restaurant Week, was for 5:15. A late lunch, you say? Once in our comfortable, spacious booth every dish was excellent and the service couldn’t have been better. Florida shrimp, oysters, stuffed cherry tomatoes, bread baked on the premises, tomahawk steak, grits. I could go on but am too embarrassed. Holy Basil is a gin cocktail packed with basil and delicious. I think you get the message.

 

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 29 – February 3

 

A few friends and I gather early Sunday mornings for gossip and coffee. Our favorite place is Caffe Reggio. It’s dark and crowded with heavy furniture. It opened in 1927 when Italy was still a monarchy. There’s an air of having stumbled into the attic of a dilapidated Italian palazzo. Cappuccino was brought to the U. S. by the owner and it’s still delicious.

Scarpetta is an NYC restaurant with the NYC buzz. Very Wall Street: Young buccaneers having a wonderful and noisy time in a crowded restaurant. We were slammed against a wall that separated us, barely, from the waiters going to and fro. It was like dining on the L. I. E. The signature spaghetti (oops sorry, pasta) dish looked appetizing but needed salt and the panna cotta dessert was predictable. The food is Italianate and the atmosphere is definitely Manhattan.

 

 

MTA Mural at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street

I attend The Garden & Forest Book Club held in Central Park’s Arsenal. Why, you ask. Because I know very little about gardens and forests and am now surrounded by people who work in those areas. They are devoted to all aspects of their world. Our required reading has included treatises, histories, memoirs. The latest book is Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees. We had a lively, mostly positive, discussion about this anthropomorphic approach to explaining the similar nature of trees and people. Peter Wohlleben is on YouTube.

M. T. A. Mural at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street

MTA Mural at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street

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 22 – January 28

The Lunar New Year, the Year of the Rooster, begins today, January 28. The U. S. Postal Service has issued a very stylish stamp.

U. S. Postal Services’ the Year of the Rooster

Bella Figura…La Dolce Vita: Luchino Visconti’s 1963 The Leopard, played to a full house at MOMA. Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s book evoked Garibaldi’s 1860 revolution. Visconti portrays this moment of Italian history perfectly. Bert Lancaster is magisterial and dignified. No tights, no high wires. Instead, he is the elderly, grand, dignified head of a distinguished and ancient family. The 45 minute ballroom scene at the end of the movie is stunning. God help any woman and most men in nineteenth century Sicily if she or he wasn’t good looking and didn’t dress well.  In addition to the changing order, Visconti captures the important place of looks and fashion in both 1850 and 1963.

Here’s a link to the various marches the day after the Inauguration:

https://www.womensmarch.com/sisters

I went to La La Land to escape the political climate. It was gentle, charming, forgettable. No surprises and programmed humor.

Off to the Sunday afternoon Frick Collection concert given by the four viol group, Phantasm. Sitting very quietly in the 1930’s Music Room and listening to superb musicians is one of the reasons I live in NYC. The music (Byrd, Gibbons, Purcell, Mozart) was austere, somber and a few of the audience took a snooze, including me. I was awakened by a neck jerk and glanced around to see if anyone had noticed.

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 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

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.