Be the glitter you wish to see in the world was the message on the Judson Memorial Church’s program about Micah Bucey’s ordination on January 24. The service was filled with physical and spiritual glitter. At least 300 ladies and gents, adults and children sparkled with glittery outfits or witty remarks. Judson burst with affection, love and respect for Rev. Bucey.
On Friday, Jan. 23, Kathy Kelly began her three month sentence at the Lexington, Kentucky prison. She is being imprisoned for protesting drone killings at Whitman Air Force Base.
Bit by bit, detail by detail… My techie friend went with me to the annual Boat Show.Why? To build Steve Kulchek’s interests, to round out his character, his upbringing on Long Island. Did he sell a beloved boat because of his divorce? Did he sell it to finance his daughter’s fancy Rhode Island School of Design education? Did his wonderful Aunt Bess die in a boating accident? I think I killed her off in a hit and run in The Lemrow Mystery. Another boating connection is Con Haggerty, Steve’s uncle, Bess’s husband. Now retired, Con was the detective who introduced Steve to the NYPD world. He lives in Florida and does lots of fishing. As we walked past the Midtown South Precinct on west 35th Street my friend told me to take a photo. The officer on duty outside the building suggested we go inside. This is the kind of spontaneous NYC experience that is golden for a writer. There was a photo of a policeman over a sign, Cop of the Week, in the vestibule. Jimbo Jimenez, my wounded cop, would look good there.
On January 11 the Paul Taylor Dance Company performed a wonderful and free program. The first performance was Images with music by Debussy. The second performance was Brandenburgs, music by Bach. The studio has a vast performing area. It’s like a large white cube with windows wrapped around the Grand Street side of the building. Sitting in the first row you have the immediate experience of the dancers being right in front of you. You see details you might miss in a theater such as a female dancer dealing with her foot caught in the hem of her costume, or another dancer giving a colleague a high five after she’d danced well or watching a dancer leaning against the wall and wiping his face after an arduous passage. It was thrilling to be a foot away from those wonderfully trained and talented dancers.
Kathy Kelly, the Chicago peace activist and one of the founders of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, spoke to a sturdy band of young and old lefties on Thursday, Jan. 15. The New York City local Green Party, Veterans for Peace and Peace Action Manhattan sponsored the meeting. It was the best kept secret in Manhattan. Although it was given at the Goddard Riverside Community Center, the center itself didn’t know or care. In spite of the lack of publicity, there were about thirty people present. Kathy Kelly talked about living alongside ordinary people trapped in war zones. She and her colleagues have been to Iraq and Afghanistan many times. Her talk was riveting and heartbreaking as she chronicled how the U. S. military debased and slaughtered the native population. Kathy has been incarcerated several times. She has gone to prison for refusing to pay war taxes. The day after our meeting she had to return to Chicago to receive her prison sentence for trespassing on a military base to protest drones. You can follow her work at www.vcnv.org.
I attend the garden and forest book club at the Central Park Arsenal. In addition to gardens and forests, the chosen books are about nature and ecology. My ignorance is profound so each book introduces me to a new world. Some of the recent ones have been Heinrich’s The Trees in my Forest, Rhodes’s John James Audubon: The Making of an American and Marris’s Rambunctious Garden.
The Arsenal, built between 1847 and 1851, predates Central Park. Originally, it was a munitions supply depot before it became part of the park. Very lady-like guns decorate the central stairway. On its walls are 1930 WPA murals and on the third floor, until recently, was the drawing that won Frederick Law Olmstead the contest to design the park. Known as the Greensward Plan it was the original plan created by Olmstead and Calvert Vaux. It was chosen by the Central Park Commissioners in 1858.
Breathing a sigh of relief once the elevator has heaved itself to the book club on the third floor, I go through the Arsenal Gallery which usually features photography and art that emphasizes the environment, urban topics and the history of the Park. There are interesting and off beat talks such as the one I attended about dying cemeteries in Staten Island.
Happy New Year! An annual holiday treat is going to Minetta Tavern. On the outside it looks like a speakeasy, a private, illegal club harkening back to prohibition. It’s a stage set, of course. Having just returned from New Mexico where restaurants seat two people at a table that would hold four in NYC and there’s plenty of room between the tables, I was struck by the tiny public spaces we squeeze ourselves into. Is it part of that incomparable NYC buzz? Why is it that dining in NYC is magical?
Yesterday we went to the venerable Veselka Restaurant on Ninth Street and Second Avenue. It’s been in business since 1954 and is run by Ukrainian-Americans. It’s one of Steve Kulchek’s hangouts. He and his Uncle Con eat there when Con is in town. A week ago I had several meals at the oldest restaurant in Santa Fe, the Plaza Cafe, founded in 1905 and run by a Greek-American family since 1947. Both are lively diners that reflect their native origins and those of the people who own them. In the southwest it’s red and green chilis with your souvlaki. In the northeast it’s sour cream with the pierogis. Both restaurants are colorful and packed. Even by American standards, the Plaza Cafe has gigantic portions.The Veselka’s are merely enormous.
Some one asked me where I find characters. I think they present themselves.Since I write mysteries, there’s a subplot connected with characters. For instance, on my block there’s a dusty Oldsmobile Cutlass. A man in his seventies sits in it with his blond retriever, a dog of the same vintage as its owner. Sometimes, a woman – the wife? sits in the passenger seat. Then the dog sits in the back seat. I’m assuming the driver smokes. Maybe he’s a retired cop. There are stickers supporting the troops and the NYPD. It intrigues me that the car is home for this guy. Plot point: The dog could pick up a piece of evidence and bring it back to the car. The guy is a pack rat and throws it under the seat. Plot point: the couple’s son was killed in Afghanistan and the father mourns the son in the car and the mother mourns the physical loss of her son and the psychological loss of her husband. The son was taught to drive in the Oldsmobile. The dog, of course, was the son’s.To be continued.