Out of New York City Blog July 22 – July 28

For the past four years I’ve spent a few of the summer weeks in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Portland, Oregon. They are two cities so different from each other and so different from NYC.

Santa Fe has the sobriquet, the city different, but its original name is far grander: La Villa Real de la Santa Fé de San Francisco de Asís  “The Royal Town of the Holy Faith of St. Francis of Assisi”

As most people know, there’s no such thing as a direct route from NYC to Santa Fe. It’s more of a squiggle:  Newark to Houston to Albuquerque to Santa Fe. The Pony Express would have been quicker and the service (United) much better.

The minute I’m in the southwest, I’m aware of space and sky. It affects my mood. I become less NYC tense, competitive, suspicious, pushy. My manners improve. I use cuss words far less often. Friendly, laid-back and courteous describe most of the people.

I like to cook and usually rent a place with a kitchen. It’s a good way to become reacquainted with Santa Fe friends. A gluten free meal was requested. I headed to Sprouts, a Whole Foods lookalike. We had the usual snacks: mozzarella balls, olives, crackers (gluten free), followed by cucumber, tomato, dill, arugala salad, ravioli (gluten free) in a mushroom, edamame, garlic, shallot sauce with parmegiano on the side. Imagine my horror when I tossed the ravioli into boiling water and they dissolved into a slimy mess. Ravioli made with wheat are a cinch to cook. Put them into boiling salted water and they’re done when they float to the top. Dessert was a gluten free cake. Never again.

On July 26, friends and I went to a buffet dinner at the Santa Fe opera site and under a huge and sturdy tent watch a storm rage around us: lightening, thunder, the works. My umbrella was tucked away in my suitcase, of course. We were lucky. There was a perfectly timed break in the storm. We scurried up the hill to the opera house. The stage is open on three sides to make use of the glorious New Mexico landscape. As the opera unfolded, the sun set leaving streaky light across the western sky.The seats are as comfortable as the ones in Alice Tully. Last night’s performance was wonderful. DiDonato and Brownlee were spectacular. They had just flown in from performing the opera at Covent Garden. The big surprise (to me) was Mariana Pizzolato a mezzo-soprano who was as good as the other two. Tomorrow we’re returning for another buffet supper and Oscar.

July 27: Talk about contrast between stormy weathered but deliciously anticipated La Donna del Lago and tonight’s balmy weather and sizzling but well bred excitement about a new and politically motivated opera. At tonight’s buffet, an Engllsh woman with the improbable name of Electra/ Brunhilde (?) did what she’s been doing for years. She gave a talk about the background of the opera. Being Oscar’s opening night, she and the crowd were fired up by the significance of gay rights and the coincidence of the Supreme Court decision. The English accent does help. Once again, Wilde was proclaimed a great writer (Oh?) and we went through his tragic tale. I could do without these adult education courses at dinner, but most of the crowd seemed to like it. I’m so glad I attended the performance with a retired singer and was I grateful for my own private tutorial. Oscar’s composer is Theodore Morrison, quite young. This is his first opera. The music was big and green – exciting in a modern way. Most modern music sounds similar to me: John Corigliano, John Adams  and to my tin ear you could include Morrison. David Daniels sang Oscar. A dancer represented Lord Alfred Douglas. He flitted in and out of the scenes contributing not a whit. Most opera dancing makes my blood boil. It was thrilling to be at the event and quite moving to see how happy so many couples were. Lordy, it could have been a Judson Memorial Church Sunday. On to Portland!


NYC Blog July 15 – July 21

A blistering, hot week in NYC. Having spent a few weeks in India in August (!), I was reminded of the silence that envelops people when they’re surrounded by heat. During this past week in NYC, most people seemed to cope with it by regarding air conditioning as the holy grail. You seek it, find it and worship it. The day’s plan was to run from your apartment’s a.c. to the taxi/bus/subway a.c. and into your office/shop/studio/unemployment center/Y/library a.c. and then repeat the process at the end of the day .

New York City Restaurant Week is officially from July 22 to August 16. Counting on my fingers, I get 19 days in NYC’s restaurant week. Whatever. A friend and I went to a Russian restaurant that began its restaurant week a week early and had blini with red caviar, braised short ribs and apple strudel. What? you say. In 100 degree weather you’re eating for the Arctic not for the Sahara. Too true. The next day I felt like a human furnace, but it was so good while I was doing it.

On Saturday we drove into Green-Wood Cemetery passing the Funerals Park Here sign. We were attending a book party for Robin Lynn’s and Francis Morrone’s GUIDE TO NEW YORK CITY URBAN LANDSCAPES. Not only is Green-Wood described in the book, it’s also featured on the cover.  Who knew that a cemetery could be bustling with life. Green-Wood has tours and events throughout the year. A nineteenth century man whose name I can’t remember invited people to his future burial plot, using it as a meeting place. What a clever fellow. I’ve included some slightly out of focus shots I took while we were trying to find our way out. The book has much better ones.

My New York Week July 8 – July 14

Overused Words and a Wordy Book

I’m so sorry the word, fuck, has lost its virginity. Aren’t you? I was thinking that while a friend and I watched THE HEAT, a sentimental, predictable, violent, girlie-bonding, white trash summer movie. Isn’t fuck the ghost pepper of words – to be used sparingly by those who know what they’re doing? Where do we go from here? Is there another word with its repulsion/fascination factor?

Guy is a word that needs to be replaced with synonyms. Am I the only woman who is puzzled when a woman only audience is addressed as you guys?

How are you? Well or good? This is one the grammarians have lost, but it does give us snobs ample opportunity to prove we know the difference between an adverb and an adjective.

Recently, I read Whittaker Chambers’s WITNESS. It’s a beautifully written book in formal American English by the controversial Mr. Chambers. Was he or wasn’t he a lifelong Commie?  Is his book a slick whitewash or a sincere recantation? It made me wonder whether this country would have been better or worse if Communism had gained a legal foothold. We’ll never know.

IMG_0175This pianist wheels his piano into Washington Square Park and then serenades us with Chopin.

My New York Week July 1 -7

When I was about fourteen, an aunt listened to my moaning about the weather and told me  to stop complaining unless I wanted to be considered a bore. I guess I want to be considered a bore because ain’t it hot? Is NYC the only place where you can be hot and cold at the same time? At least it doesn’t curb my appetite. On Tuesday, over platters of mussels and fries and chilled white wine a friend and I discussed her recent trip to Palestine, Israel and Egypt. She’s a well educated, thoughtful woman who’s agreed to my interviewing her about her experiences in the middle east. Stay tuned! On Wednesday, a friend and I went to the American Ballet Theatre’s The Sleeping Beauty. It was a frothy delight with wonderful dancing – nothing like the pitty-pat of ballet slippers on the Metropolitan’s stage. My friend knows all those Russian and Latin names. From Kochetkova to Cornejo to Vasiliev the names trip off his tongue. I’m going to be boring again and bring up the weather. The 4th was a real stinker but I spent part of the day with old pals and am including a photo

M & K's enchanting garden
M & K’s enchanting garden

of their wonderful green garden.