New York City Blog Nov. 23 – Nov. 30

Judson Thanksgiving

Judson Thanksgiving

The annual Judson Memorial Thanksgiving meal was held after the November 23 service. Every year we are implored in a gentle Protestant way to bring grub and flowers. Sometimes your taste buds don’t know the difference. At the back of the sanctuary, noble souls set up long tables with food warmers. Contributors put their dishes on the warmers, scurry to join their friends for the service and afterwards form lines and dive in. Slightly chaotic and lots of fun and work.

On a slightly smaller scale, I served Thanksgiving dinner to dear friends with whom I used to hike. Imagine my surprise when I realized I’d bought a turkey breast rather than the whole bird. We still had far too much turkey.

Going up Fifth Avenue on Black Friday is taking your life in your hands. I stopped in my tracks when I saw young Salvation Army men dancing around their begging pot. It was a giggle.

Salvation Army finding its groove

Salvation Army finding its groove

The Fifth Avenue stores had wasted no time. Thanksgiving – Done. Christmas/Hanukkah/Big Money Making Holiday – next. Saks was decked out in shimmering gold.

Saks in all its holiday glory

Saks in all its holiday glory

 

I joined a friend at MOMA to go through the Matisse exhibit again. She takes her time, reads the descriptions. I move fast. So we agreed to meet at the end of the trail and have lunch in the fifth floor cafe – so much nicer than the ground floor restaurant where you wait years to be served. Afterwards, we had a post prandial stroll in MOMA’s garden. It was a crisp fall NYC day. Absolutely perfect.

MOMA's Sculpture Garden, looking north

From MOMA’s Sculpture Garden, looking north

New York City Blog November 17 – November 23

Wednesday was movie night at the 42nd Street Regal. As my crosstown bus dawdled along 42nd Street I gazed out the window at Madame Tussauds, Ripley’s, McDonald’s. Once again 42nd Street has won. It’s as tacky as ever. None of that Guiliani urban renewal nonsense has had the slightest effect. The movie was Foxcatcher. Steve Carell is perfect as John Dupont, a modern day Caligula, Channing Tatum is a graceful gorilla and Mark Ruffalo is heartbreakingly well balanced.

Thursday was prepare for the worse evening. N. Y. State’s Preparedness Program was presented at High School for Health Professions and Human Services (The old Stuyvesant High School). Some very cute and courteous National Guard gents in camouflage outfits  (Thank you, Ma’am, Please take the left, ma’am.) handed us participants red movie tickets and told us we had to present them for the book bag full of survival goodies. They directed the masses to the auditorium where we had to endure third tier NYC politicians thanking us for showing up. I cheated by listening to Barry Manilow on my iPhone until I noticed street wise members of the crowd leaving. I snuck into the line out the door and escaped with the goodie bag.

A suggestion for a perfect NYC day: Go to the Matisse Cut Outs at MOMA, lunch on the fourth floor and see a movie. We saw Winter Carnival (1939) a terrible but delicious movie of 1939, deemed Hollywood’s greatest year but you wouldn’t know it from this flick. It starred Ann Sheridan frolicking in the snow at Dartmouth College, more lady-like than in Drive by Night, and Richard Carlson, her love interest, who later played in All About Eve.The script was worked on by Budd Schulberg and F. Scott Fitzgerald. This experience led to Schulberg’s novel, The Disenchanted. Amazing what we’ll do for a paycheck.

Bye until next week

Bye until next week

New York City Blog Nov. 10 – Nov.. 16

Dow has received EPA permission to manufacture a new herbicide. Whoopee! May I write the lengthy list of instructions in 2 point font? Here are some familiar phrases: When used according to instructions…if you’re elderly, an infant or a farm worker… beware. This is followed by a list of chemicals with as many letters as a Greek name. If you are like me, you usually don’t read the labels past the caloric content.

My protagonist, Detective Steve Kulchek, inherited a love of science from his Aunt Bess. Aunt Bess belonged to a gardening book club that met at the Arsenal in Central Park. I too belong to the book club and it’s opened a world to me that I didn’t know. I read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring only recently. It’s like admitting you never read To Kill a Mockingbird.

Over fifty years later, Rachel Carson is still controversial. Disagreeing with her thesis that the chemical DDT had harmful effects, is fair. I’m bothered by the shocked attitude as if Carson presumes to question the mighty gods of science. Here’s an example of a capitalist god putting a mere mortal in her place: Steve Forbes, in an article called Mass Murder, writes:The shock is not the misinformation found in a nearly 50-year-old book or the fact that environmental extremists, many of whom seem to be antipeople anyway, cling to it. It’s that governments, foundations and health agencies still pander to these lethal prejudices.

To quote “Big Yellow Taxi”
Hey farmer, farmer, put away your DDT
I don’t care about spots on my apples,
Leave me the birds and the bees
Please

Bye until next week

Bye until next week

 

New York City Blog Nov. 2 – Nov. 9

Amnesty International mailed me a 12” by 12” 2015 paper calendar. Is there any more dated symbol of a bygone world? The paper calendar is in the same category as all those deserted malls. Isn’t the internet, or a similar communication device, here to stay? In addition to the expense of producing the calendar, the contents are highly suspect. There are colored photos of pretty dark children smiling in soft focused lighting. We know Panos Pictures did the photos because the credit is almost an inch high and mentioned three times. It’s Project Runway meets the Sierra Club. Some day these shots might be considered vintage. Now they’re only dated examples of another charity spending its money unwisely. What a distortion of human suffering. What a waste of money.

Vivaldi is to Venice what Gershwin is to NYC. I was thinking this while listening to the mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato at Carnegie Hall. She was celebrating Venice. In addition to Vivaldi, she sang the works of Faure´, Rossini, Head, Hahn and DeCurtis.It’s all lovely and wonderful to hear, but I favor Vivaldi because he’s a hometown boy and I associate his music with the churches, Santa Maria della Pieta and San Vidal. Who was San Vidal? There’s a Carpaccio painting of him on horseback on San Vidal’s main altar. You can gaze at it and other paintings while listening to gorgeous music – Vivaldi, of course, at the church just over the Accademia Bridge.

Crisis Geography
Have you visited any of the following countries in the last 21 days, followed by a map of western Africa showing Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Senegal, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Maps of Vietnam, Irag, Iran, Syria come to mind. Do we have to have a health crisis or declare war to become interested in geography?

Bye until next week

Bye until next week

 

New York City Blog October 26 – November 1

On October 28, I attended In Conversation with Carla Maxwell at Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance Studio on Grand Street. Ms. Maxwell is the artistic director of the Jose´ Limon Dance Company. It was a wonderful evening filled with reminiscences about Doris Humphrey (1895-1958) and Jose´ Limon at Bennington during the thirties. It included clips of a 1938 performance of Passacaglia which Paul Taylor is presenting this coming season.

Later in the week I saw Laura Poitras’s Citizenfour. It’s at IFC on 6th Ave. Edward Snowden comes across as a thoughtful, articulate man who made difficult and ethical decisions for which he’s paying big time. There’s much too much of the journalist, Glenn Greenwald. I wish I had enjoyed the sound of his voice as much as he did. I think that Snowden’s revelations are useful for society but wish there had been more about conflicting views. God help him if, like Kim Philby, he will have to spend the rest of his life in Russia.

Tutututu much!  Have you overdosed on Halloween? Bear with me, please. Regard this charming lad in a tutu. He is the Sunday school teacher of the person who’s lost his head.

Judson's Ballet Master

Judson’s Ballet Master

Headless Wonder

Headless Wonder